Thursday, February 18, 2016

First Thursday of Lent: Prayer as Talking to a Friend

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7-12

Prayer is like venting to a wise friend. I can say a lot and not all would make sense, but I would find myself comforted and reassured by their attentive listening and compassionate gaze. Despite a regular prayer practice, I find myself getting stuck at times. During these particular moments, I am invited to return to three simple reminders from other companions along the way:

Just talk 
Prayer is about connecting with God and begins with simply talking to Him. As an analytical person, I tend to get caught up in content and technique. When I come to this awareness, I remind myself that I am in a safe space with someone trusted (Jesus), where vulnerability, humility, and honesty can lead to transformation and healing.

As a friend, He knows me 
With our closest friends in whom we feel accepted, we can become more courageous to bring our fears, hurts, and uncertainties to the light. In his Letters to a Young Poet, the poet Rilke famously said life is about “living with the questions,” and Jesus knows this, because on a fundamental level He understands the human condition. As human beings, He understands our struggles with excessive self-reliance and ego along with tunnel vision and fires of restlessness. As our friend, He knows each and every one of us. I sometimes imagine Him laughing kindly and compassionately towards my tendency to overanalyze and worry, my perfectionism and inclination to solve every problem, my habit to do, do, do, and my attachments to expectation and entitlement. But, by being fully human and fully divine, Jesus understands the questions beneath my questions and the needs beneath my needs.

Friendship (and prayer), above all, is about presence 
Teresa of Ávila wrote that “prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God”, and it is in the subtle but profound gift of presence where friendship is found.  It is an understanding and support that transcends words. As my friend, Jesus is by my side whether I realize it or not and He is always present and waiting. This is the spiritual posture thatis the moment-by-moment opportunity of prayer.

Lord, invite me to pause, stay with my breath, and remember that you are here with me. Shift me from my head to my heart and allow me to share:

What is on my mind today?
Do I feel invited to share or ask for anything?

Albert Wolff 

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