Saturday, September 12, 2015

Reflections on Prayer

My dad is the smartest - the wisest - man I know. I am so blessed that he periodically sends me (and my brothers and sisters) his reflections via email. The other day I was reading something he had sent to me out loud to my husband when one of my twins (I forget which) asked if I was reading Apologetics. Now, my dad is a former Catholic seminarian (I guess God thought he had a different vocation!), and he was my first apologetics teacher. That comment actually made me think, though, that sometimes my Dad's words should be shared. To that end, here is a snippet of the email that he sent my my siblings and me a little while ago.

"Hope all is well with you and your families.  Naturally, each of you, and what I perceive to be your needs, are daily in my prayers, even multiple times each day.  There is a wonderful bible quote on this subject, if you want to look it up - Lk: 11, 5-8.  Any bible will do.  Which reminds me of something that I wanted to share several times over the past 6-8 weeks.  Each of you have significant problems in your lives and I am constantly talking about praying for you.  Some of you may wonder what I must be thinking when I tell you that.  I do not expect your problems to go away, although the human side of me wishes that I could make that happen.  Clearly, none of the problems that our family encountered over the years went away, but I wasn't fired, although my job was threatened twice, and we survived, although imperfectly, and each of you have your own families.  F. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled) says that life is problems and that we grow through problem solving.  He doesn't say that problems go away.  A Cal Tech physics prof says that we control much less in our lives than we think, that 90% of life is chance.  Prayer in that context makes so much more sense than the problems one would encounter, if prayer is a matter of asking God to change what is, to cause a miracle.  Prayer in my context is about asking God's help (grace) to be imparted to you to galvanize your own personal resources, be they rational, emotional, spiritual, etc. to deal with the problem in the best way possible.  I like to think of grace (God's help) as always being present, within your grasp, and prayer as the vehicle to access the grace.  In other words most of the time we have the resources to address issues, even if it is simply accepting what you cannot change.  Grace energizes those resources and it is because we are all part of the Communion of Saints (we are all in this boat together) that one person can have an impact through prayer on another.  It is not a perfect explanation, but at least now you know what I mean when I say I am praying for you.  In reality life is all about how we cho[o]se to respond to what life offers.  We don't always understand it and we don't always act in our own best interest, but as the British say "We muddle through."  Or as Christ did on the way to crucifixion, we fall and we pick ourselves up again and again as we march towards our journey's end."

So, just a piece of what my Dad imparts to his children. I love having him to advise and comfort me. There are parallels in my life and his, so the fact that 30 years ago, he was where I am now is immensely helpful to me.

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