This is the final chapter in Love Unveiled. In the coming weeks we will be choosing another book to read together online. If you would like to give your input to choose our next selection from Formed.org, you can find more information HERE.
In this chapter on prayer, Sri reminds us that prayer begins with God’s initiative in seeking us out and desiring for us to enter into a relationship with Him. While we may get caught up in the mechanics of prayer, prayer is simply the desire for God in our hearts. Jesus thirsts for our love. He wants our attention, awaits our response. Sri states, “Pious practices, devotions, good works, and penances should be expressions of our love for God, but they in themselves are not the goal. ” The goal of prayer is love of God…total, unconditional, selfless love, and from this love will flow all those other things. The Catechism goes so far as to say practices of prayer are of little value on their own if our heart is far from God.
Sri concludes this chapter by talking about the obstacles to prayer. He lists distraction, dryness, busy lives and the feeling that God does not seem to be listening. Haven’t we all experienced most of these obstacles. Finding time and being distracted were definitely my top two obstacles early on in my spiritual life! While distraction will still creep in occasionally, finding time has become less of an issue! Isn’t every moment an opportunity to converse with God? I do look forward to quiet times in the evenings, or when I lay in bed before sleep takes over or when I wake and don’t need to get out of bed right away. However, as prayer became a habit, I have found that the conversation with God really never stops, it is a constant dialogue throughout the day. Oh sure, the intensity changes as life goes on around me, but I find my thoughts always return to God.
God thirsts for us…thirsts for our love. If we are open to Him, we will be drawn to seek Him more intimately and our thirst for Him will become insatiable. Pray always!
Ah yes, prayer! A good way to finish our journey with this book. I struggle with prayer on a nearly daily basis – and in ways that Sri mentions as being very common in this chapter. But before I get into all of that, I have to say that I do like the analogy given regarding the Samarian woman that Jesus encounters at the well. God ‘thirsting’ for us, if I really think about it, is a concept that can change my entire outlook regarding my self-imagined poor prayer performance. The author, as if reading my mind states “…it’s not all about me and how well I perform” – the emphasis is instead on my cooperation with Him; giving Him the chance to work in my life and in my heart. Think about this for just a moment: Of the many relationships that you have in your life, what is the one single thing that the BEST of them have in common? Communication! Dialogue! Interaction!
So how can we expect a great, faithful and fruitful relationship with God, if we aren’t communicating well, or often? So, my one takeaway for this final chapter is this: Converse more with God; actual conversation rather than a routine or a checklist of how I imagine prayer should go, keeping in mind the acronym ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication). I will work on my relationship by bettering my communication and accept the distractions and excuses as opportunities to see, really and truly see, what is taking up space in my heart that should be reserved for God alone.
Questions for your comment –
- What is/was the most challenging obstacle to prayer for you? What ways did you try to overcome that obstacle?
- What is one thing you could do to enhance your prayer life?
- What is your favorite prayer or prayers?
- What other prayer opportunities would you like to see offered at Saint Kilian Parish?