The topic on prayer is one subject which has not left me ever since I entered the formation house 14 years ago. Perhaps this is so because I am not over it yet. Or perhaps, because God, whom I struggle to encounter in my prayer, is not yet done with me.
The article Four Moments to Christian Prayer* is very telling: Prayer is an activity which is not confined in the chapel. For sure, it may begin there, although not necessarily so. But certainly, it ought not to end there.
For that which has been listened to (the first moment), ought to have been translated to a concrete action (the final moment), something which is evident from the on-lookers without the pray-er telling them that it’s a result of his prayer; it is but a logical consequence of one’s struggling to see what God wishes one to look at and respond to Him with filial trust (third and prayer moments, respectively).
This brings me to recall what my rector told me in my recent rendiconto: To see my progress in my prayer life, I ought to check my love life, that is, how I relate with the people within my sphere.
Prayer is not just a mere activity that we schedule and carry out when the time for it comes; it goes beyond it, it is a relationship with God.
It is in this regard that I realized how my long stay in the congregation has enabled me to grow in how I view and treat prayer. From my mere opening of my mouth to add my voice to the choral praying in my first community in Canlubang, to a prolonged immersion before the Blessed Sacrament, which evolved into assessing my living to see how I am doing in my praying.
Indeed, my life of prayer ought to just be reduced to my life.
It’s not that there is already an integration between the two. I figure, my journey is still a very long and winding one at that. But while I am sure that I will enjoy reaching the destination, I am thrilled by just taking this journey of prayer.
Fr. Francis, our teacher in Spiritual Theology, emphasized a ‘desirous stance of God to search us as we strive to look for Him’ made me ask myself this question as to the cause why if it so, there were moments when the atmosphere is perfect to commune with Him, and that there was ample time to have a tete-a-tete with Him, He is nowhere to be found.
Why is there an apparent absence of Him in my prayers? Those painstaking search for Him, my efforts I exerted, feeling wasted, which don’t always bear success.
But then again, I remind myself, prayer is not something that I ought to derive achievement from. And so, to measure success, one ought to use a different type of measuring tool.
Like, how God measures it.
*Written by Fr. John Sheets, SJ