I found some notes for a talk I never gave that I’ve been prompted to share here. It started out to be about prayer. And, essentially, it still is. But I used the argument that God is always with us and so we never have to wonder if we can pray because prayer is just talking to God. And of course we can talk to someone who is with us, right? And then I maintain that we should talk to God because, like any good parent, God wants to hear from us! And then I just explain that prayer is basically communicating with our Creator. We don’t need to use fancy words and sometimes, in moments of intense pain, fear, or even joy, we can use very few words. Sometimes we don’t have to use any words at all. I’ve been there.
You can’t know someone if you don’t talk to them.
There is no set way, there’s no ‘wrong way’ to pray. There are different types of prayer: supplication (asking for something), praise, forgiveness, blessings, statements of faith (see the Apostles Creed), and then those wonderful prayers of thanksgiving.
There’s a YouTube clip I’m sharing below from a film called “On The Waterfront.” It’s a very old movie, but it’s got some timeless themes. One of those themes is personified in the character of the priest who ministers to the people on the docks, Father Barry. He fought against corruption and the exploitation of the longshoremen who worked in New York Harbor. Father Barry is a man of integrity and courage in the face of evil and indifference. That is a timeless theme and that means it is always relevant. If someone is not ‘out there’ fighting for the good of others, if someone doesn’t believe that things can get better, well, things won’t end well.
I chose this moment in the film to show that Father Barry knows what I know: that Jesus is always with us. He’s right here making the tough decision with you, bearing hard times with you. One prayer I know speaks of the Lord “laughing with us in the joy and crying with us in the pain.” You have to know this – pray for that knowledge. We get the gifts, the grace we need, to have that binding relationship between ourselves and Jesus when we seek it. It’s terribly sad that too many people don’t have that relationship and don’t understand that Jesus knows our suffering because He suffered, too. And He is still, in His infinite mercy, love, and compassion, suffering with us. But recall that He also rejoices in our best moments!
We must remember, too, that we cannot be passive. Yes, we can receive and even be grateful for this knowledge, but then we have to DO something with it! We have to do something about it! And we can ask the Holy Spirit, the Helper that Jesus left with us before He ascended, for that grace to do, and also for the wisdom in using our gifts to know, what God wants us to do. Asking what God’s will is for ourselves leads us to wisdom.
To those people of faith who are yearning to make a difference…
I offer the suggestion of praying this way, “Lord, use me to glorify Your name and advance Your Kingdom!” And on this Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, I share with you these words from this humble, sweet saint: “Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.”