(Captured this photo after Mass one morning… This is little C’s favorite spot to run to before and after Holy Communion. She runs to our Lady, kneels down, clasps her hands, and offers a very intense quiet prayer, then gets back up and smiles, and carries on her way. Oh, the fervor of little children! May I always learn from them to run to our Lady with every request!)
Prayer. St. Therese calls it a lifting of the heart to Christ. Some of our prayer is calling out His Name and praising Him. And there are prayers of thanksgiving. And there are prayers asking for forgiveness and mercy. And many, many prayers are ones of asking. We ask for many things, do we not? We may ask for healing for a sick person, or a peaceful death for a loved one, for a broken marriage, for our parish priest, for someone to have a baby that is having difficulty conceiving, for our children and their many needs, for our spouse, for a need of a friend, for a complete stranger that we met and just felt compelled to offer a prayer for them, for the EMTs as they race past us in the ambulance and for the person they are going to help, for the ones we know struggling with depression, or addiction, for the beautiful girl we know who is in a bad relationship that she has the courage to get out and regain an understanding of her great dignity and worth, for the family member out of work, for that test to go well, for the ability to make ends meet for ourselves or someone we know struggling, for patience, for understanding …. This list goes on and on. How many things are on the hearts of God’s people.
And then at the same time, we don’t ask enough. Sometimes we say “I’ll pray for you” or “I’ll pray for your intention,” but do we wholeheartedly do that and bring that person or intention before God? Or do we sometimes fall out of asking God for things? Perhaps we think, ” He knows what is in my heart” or “He already sees me struggling with this; I don’t need to tell Him… I don’t need to bug Him about this… again.” Sometimes, we have this strange impression that God is a bit too busy taking care of all of the big stuff, that we shouldn’t bother Him, especially when it comes to something for us personally. Or, sometimes we have to consider if we have lost a bit of our fervor we may have once had. Have we been too lax and in a way forgotten that we need to pray, that we need to ask the Lord for things, not only for ourselves, but for others? How many people are dependent on our prayers! How many graces are ready to to fall from the heavens, but are just waiting on that one prayer of faith from someone down here on earth? We must not grow tired of asking. “We must not grow weary of doing what is right” as St. Paul says.
A while back, I came across this beautiful reflection:
“When Jesus died on the Cross for us, the redemption of mankind became an accomplished fact. Thereafter, every one coming into this world is already redeemed, in the sense that the precious Blood of Jesus has already merited for him all the graces necessary for his salvation and also for his sanctification. What still remains to be done is the application of these graces to each individual soul; and it is for this that God wishes our collaboration. He wants it so much that He has made the granting of certain graces, necessary for our salvation and that of others, dependent upon our prayers. In other words, by the merits of Jesus, grace – God’s infinite mercy- is ready to be poured out abundantly into men’s souls, but it will not be poured out unless there is someone who raises supplicating hands to heaven, asking for it. If prayer does not ascend to the Most High, grace will not be granted… There is no substitute for prayer, because prayer draws grace directly from its source, God. Our activity, our words and works prepare the ground for grace, but if we do not pray, it will not come down to refresh souls.” (Divine Intimacy #325 – a beautiful Carmelite spirituality classic)
Wow. How important it is to pray. How necessary it is to ask God… for everything! “God wants our collaboration.” He is God Almighty, the One who can do all things, and yet He loves us so deeply, that He requests our help in showering these graces down on others. How He loves us! Let us not be afraid. Let us not allow fear or anything else stand in the way of accepting this great mission. Even if we don’t feel worthy, God sees our beauty, our goodness, and is just waiting for us to ask Him. As St. Therese once explained that Christ says “I await only a prayer, a sigh from your heart!'” And with our heart’s sigh, with that simple prayer, He listens, and He answers, showering down graces upon this world… we need only to ask.
Let us ask our sweet Lady to teach us… to be like little children tugging on the hem of the Father’s robe, looking up to Him eyes wide and full of trust, and as He bends down, that we have the courage and childlike faith to whisper in His ear our request. How He will smile upon us and the joy we will see in His eyes as He answers that prayer!