Prayer Opens Possibilities |
The painting of Holman Hunt represents Our Blessed Lord knocking at an ivy-covered door with a lantern in His hand. Holman Hunt was criticized on the ground that he had no latch on the outside of the door. His answer was, "Of course not. The latch is on the inside. We alone can open it." It is for free men to accept or reject the favors and blessings of God. Man must will to receive. Prayer is an opportunity to let in what would otherwise be left out. Air is there if we breathe, light is there if we open our eyes, and the gifts we receive from Heaven depend on our trust. Prayer opens possibilities. House plants cannot live without water; the flowers will give us their blossoms only if we give them water. Windows will let in light, if we clean them. Our hearts will let in God, if we purify them. Blessings come to those who put themselves in an environment of love.
Here is an orphaned, homeless child of the street. This other little girl is in a very happy home. She has all she needs for her happiness, such as food, clothing, shelter, and affection. The first child has none of these blesings because she is devoid of the environment of love. The homeless child outside that environment lacks those advantages. In like manner, those who do not through prayer place themselves in this environment of Divine Love and Power miss the graces and happiness which others enjoy. Some parents refuse to raise a family, saying, "I could not afford to send my child to college." Obviously their only resources are the bank account. If, however, they put themselves in the environment of Divine Love, trusting in God Who made them, then they would receive the prosperity which presently they are denied. We do not trust those who do not trust us. Just as soon as we trust others, they open their hearts to us. So it is with the Lord.
Distractions should not be a serious problem in prayer. Saint Bernard had a friend once who told him he never had any distractions. Saint Bernard confessed to having trouble with them. The two were out horseback riding when Saint Bernard said, "I will give you this horse, if you can say the Our Father without distraction. Now, get off your horse and say the Our Father." His friend got as far as the words, "Give us thi day our daily bread," when he looked up at Saint Bernard and asked, "Can I have the saddle too?"
A sick man who was brought to a hospital said to the good nun in charge, "I haven't prayed in thirty years. Pray for me." She said, "Pray for yourself. Sometimes the strange voice is the one most quickly heard."
Prayer may be briefly treated under the three titles of petition, worship, and action.
In petitionary prayer we do not tell God our needs, for He knows those before we begin. Rather we give Him an opportunity to bestow them on us. Prayer is helplessness casting itself on Power, infirmity leaning on Strength, misery reaching to Mercy, and a prisoner clamoring for Relief.
God has two kinds of gifts - those He gives us whether we pray or not and those He gives us on condition we put ourselves in the area of His Love. God may want to give us something but cannot, because our hands are full of tinsel. Many regard God as an aviator regards a parachute. They hope they never need Him, but if they do, He may come in handy.
Mid-Summer Hiatus Issue
July 15 - September 1, 2002
volume 13, no. 104