With the Internet at our fingertips, we have the ability to find a prayer about anything we can think of. Has your cat gone missing? There’s a prayer for that. Do you need to do well on an upcoming test? Look up that prayer too. Are your finances off track this month? You guessed it—you can find a prayer for that.
A majority of these prayers have to do with requesting God’s help to get what we want. While petition is one form of prayer, if we only pray when we want something, we turn prayer into a big vending machine in the sky. We put in prayer and expect to get back exactly what we are asking for.
The Catechism describes prayer as a living relationship with God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In human relationships, we have many different forms of communications—we talk, we ask, we listen, we thank, we acknowledge, we laugh and cry and sometimes we just sit in silence. All of these forms of communication are also forms of prayer. Prayer is the foundation of our Faith, a way for us to communicate with God to gain a deeper understanding of our relationship with him.
Jesus lifted up prayers for a variety of situations. Take, for example, John 17: 9-10: “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.” In this prayer, he offers up his disciples to God as an act of protection and safekeeping, as well as one of thanks. Throughout various other stories in the Bible, he offers prayers of thanks, of understanding, and of love. He does pray in times of suffering, as well, but he understands his mission from God; rather than wishing the pain away, he prays and asks for the fortitude to bear it in God’s name.
Take a moment to think about your prayer life. Are you worshiping God, listening to him and thanking him, or are you merely asking for what you want and trying to wish away your difficulties?
Once you treat prayer as the foundation of a faithful lifestyle, you’ll understand how powerful it can be. Pray to worship and adore God, to understand how he is calling you, and to thank him for the blessings he has bestowed upon you. You will find that God always answers your prayers. He just does not answer them in the way we expect.