Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Authentic Prayer: The Good, Bad and Ugly

When I first returned to the Catholic Church, I hadn't prayed in a very long time. My conversations with God were limited to quick please for help in dire situations--when I wasn't busy trying to handle them myself.

I'd been through the gambit, from simply lazy to outright defiance. I made comments like, "When you look up to God, all I see is the ceiling."  Very clever. It's a wonder my guardian angel didn't give me a swift kick in the rear.

I even tried the ol' pantheism route via Star Wars, because it's always a good idea to base your concept of God on a science fiction film.

So when I finally wised up and understood that God wanted a relationship with me, even with all my faults and past insults, prayer became an integral part of my day. But how exactly does one pray?  The Catholic Church has many beautiful prayers for thanksgiving, petition, and many other situations, and these are all good, but the real meat comes from actual conversations. After all, you wouldn't limit your daily exchanges with your spouse to recitals from a book of poems, would you?

At first, I sounded like an excerpt from The Ten Commandments. 

Oh God, Who gives me everything, all praise belongs to thee. Or is it thou? Very stilted, and while it expresses the right sentiments, the delivery isn't natural.

It wasn't until I was extremely frustrated and cried out something along the lines of, "What the hell? This isn't fair! And it sucks, too!" that I stumbled upon authentic prayer.

God wants us as we are. It's not as if we're going to hide anything from Him. Selfish? He already knows. Whiny? Not a surprise. Lazy? He's on to it. This is freedom at it's best.  He loves us just as we are. We don't need to be "in the right mood", nor do we need to watch our phrasing. It's not like a visit to your in-laws.

Next time I'll let you in on another exciting secret I discovered: Prayer is a two-way street!

Do you go to God angry? Sad? Frustrated? Or do you save your prayers up until you're "fit for company?"

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