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Friday, March 2, 2012
Lenten Daily Dose - 1st Friday
The three aspects that Catholics are supposed to focus on during Lent are almsgiving, fasting, and prayer.
Prayer is an activity that has ‘peaks and valleys’ in my life. I get on a roll and a I pray often and meaningfully, and then I drift, and seem distant because I am praying less and without as much conviction. I think it is part of being human, but it may be just part of being Chuck.
I am starting to look at prayer like trying to keep in touch with a friend that lives a long distance away. I need to pick up the phone and call that person. I need to share what is going on in my life with that person and keep them part of my life. Most of us have a friend that has moved away or we have moved away from them. It is work to stay in touch when you are not physically near them, and the key is communication. Prayer is that lifeline to our friend, God. Prayer is what brings Him close.
It is interesting how our prayer life grows. At first we pray like God is Santa Claus, and we send him our wish list. We tell him that we’ve been good so put us on the “Good List” and grant what we want. Prayers of petition are great and needed, don’t get me wrong, but I think there is more to the conversation.
I think that we have to be careful with our prayers of petition. If we think that we are really praying to change God’s mind on the direction or way that something is getting done, we might not be on the right track. Richard Rohr frames it by saying, “Prayer is not about changing God, but being willing to let God change us.” Also in his book “Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps” he writes:
“In what is commonly called prayer, you and your hurts, needs, and perspectives are still the central reference point, not really God. But you have decided to invite a Major Power in to help you with your already determined solution! God can perhaps help you get what you want, but it is still a self-centered desire, instead of God’s much better role—which is tohelp you know what you really desire (Luke 11:13, Matthew 7:11). It always takes a bit of time to widen this lens, and therefore the screen, of life.
One goes through serious withdrawal pain for a while until the screen is widened to a high-definition screen. It is work to learn how to pray, largely the work of emptying the mind and filling the heart—that is prayer in one concise and truthful phrase. Or as some say, "pulling the mind down into the heart" until they both operate as one.