Each issue carries an imprimatur from
the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reprinting prohibited
Responding to Gods Love in Prayer
So here I am again! It is “late night” time for
prayer. I am tired and weary, grateful for the good
news of the day while thinking of the challenges
on my doorstep. Some are unexpected, others simmer
over time. But I cannot fall asleep without at
least a few words with God, our source of life.
Often my words are limited as I review the last
24 hours. I may simply pray, “Loving God, have
mercy on me, a sinner,” as I reach to set the alarm
for morning. Another day awaits, one given in love
by the Lord and God of all.
Coming to God in prayer
Some days I sense God’s presence so vividly and
clearly. Other days I wonder if God is far from
me…and then I realize that it is I who have moved
in another direction.
My prayer may lead me to petition God for
help. I may experience his support through others
right before my eyes, people yearning to answer
the knock on their unopened door. I am humbled
when my prayer takes me to the awareness that I
may need to seek forgiveness. This especially
comes as a surprise when I have already decided
who needs to act before I will.
We come to God in prayer, seeking in God’s
presence as Father, Son and Holy Spirit the
embrace that knows no time and never lets go.
Work and prayer
There are many ways to offer our
prayer. Our work can serve as a reflection
of who we are as children of God.
It can become a constant witness to
faith by the way we pursue the “daily
work of our hands,” the way we “spend”
time. Our work can become a prayerful
expression of faithfulness to God.
One way I have also come to
know and experience God is through
his calling me to pause for prayer
periodically from whatever activity I
may be doing, including my daily
work. Even activity typically
described as “work” needs to yield
to the work of the heart.
God invites us to stop whatever
we are doing, no matter what, and
rest in his presence. Sometimes this
“rest” may not happen on our
schedule. It may seize us at the least
opportune moment. Yet we are
unable to resist the promptings of
the Holy Spirit. I once was told by a
Benedictine abbot that his work and
that of his fellow monks ceases
periodically in order to pray as a
community during the day.
Prayer calls us to something that
is beyond complete understanding.
Words may drift away as God’s presence
resounds within us. In such
moments, distractions surrender to a
listening heart, time seems to cease
and calm overcomes us.
God offers us a glimpse beyond
time, leading to a longing that only
God can fill. This is a “be-longing” that
gently welcomes and lovingly captures
our spirit in the movement of God
with us. It is, in a word, what relationship
is all about.
Prayer and relationship
Think about a meaningful relationship
in your life. What makes it, or made it,
so enriching and fulfilling for you?
Now reflect for a moment on your relationship
with God. How might you
Prayer is “a vital and personal
relationship with the living and true
God” (United States Catholic Catechism
for Adults, p. 463). God calls us to relationship.
We can experience the wonder
and presence of God through others,
especially from within the community
of the Church. We can also be that
doorway to relationship with God for
When we pray the Scriptures, we are
deepening our relationship with God.
The Scriptures enable us to hear God’s
call, leaving us keenly aware of God’s
ongoing faithfulness to us.
The Scriptures are a treasury of
prayerful faithfulness and faithful
prayerfulness. In telling the story of
Esther, the USCCA (p. 465) cites her
prayer in time of need: “My Lord, our
King, you alone are God. Help me,
who am alone and have no help but
you” (Est C:14).
We pray the eucharistic liturgy of
the Church when we gather as the
Church. How powerful it is to come
together in praise and worship of the
one who calls us to himself. Word and
sacrament enlighten and sustain us,
not just for ourselves but to enliven us
to live and share what we receive day
after day. No wonder our prayer at
Eucharist is one of thanksgiving
wrapped in loving humility.
Through this sacrament of sacraments,
we receive Jesus Christ, really
and truly present under the appearance
of bread and wine. Our faith moves us
to respond to God’s call in our lives.
We are his for others.
God is hard to resist! It is no wonder
that “[t]he point where his call
and our response intersect is
prayer” (USCCA, p. 464).
Sometimes we may seek signs and
wonders to confirm that God is
with us. We may doubt God’s presence
among us. However, we can
be reassured by looking among
believers who live (or have lived)
by faith as witnesses to God’s abiding
We can call upon the saints
when we pray. In a special way we
call upon Mary, whose own free
choice resulted in her carrying the
Son of God. This loving mother is
present to us as we link our prayer to
hers. We praise God and ask Mary, disciple
and intercessor, to intercede on
our behalf. Mary and Joseph set a family
example for Jesus. Do your own memories
of childhood make you wonder
what Jesus witnessed as a young child?
As a boy, I shared an attic bedroom
with my younger brother. The
attic stairs were opposite my parents’
bedroom door. Because my dad awoke
before dawn for his workday at a large
bakery, he was used to going to bed
early (at least by my teen standards).
A passing glance into my parents’ bedroom
on the way to the attic would
paint a lifetime memory I cannot forget:
Dad on his knees by the bed, praying
before a well-earned night’s rest.
My father led me then, and leads me
now, to our Father.
As we pray the Our Father, we join with Jesus in praying to the God
and Father of all. We are invited into a
relationship of love like no other.
“When we say ‘Our,’ we recognize that
we are a people bound together by the
New Covenant that God has made with
us through his Son in the Holy Spirit”
(USCCA, p. 485).
Our 2,000-year history has been
marked by change and challenge. Yet the
Our Father, or Lord’s Prayer, is a “relationship
link” among generations and
across centuries. We can take comfort in
knowing that our ancestors prayed this
great prayer of the Church that we offer
today, that we teach to our children and
that Jesus himself prayed. The words of
Jesus become our own. He continues to
teach us to pray.
The risk of prayer
Prayerful living requires attention and
sacrifice. It invites us to risk conversion
of heart and shifts in priorities. This is
what happens in life-giving relationships.
Looking now through life’s rearview
mirror, I know that several decades are
but a speck when measured against eternity.
But, then, what is time? Prayer
invites us to eternal relationship with God.
Indeed, we are called to rest in the one
who never ceases to call us to himself.
Consider focusing, even for a few
minutes, on one of the seven petitions of
the Our Father each day of the next week.
Reach now for a Bible and find Matthew
6:9-13. Slowly pray in communion with
the whole Church, “Our Father….”
Remain attentive to the Holy Spirit
leading you in faith, trust and witness.
Perhaps your prayer for today has only
The theme of this article is drawn from Ch. 35 and 36
(pp. 461-495) of the United States Catholic Catechism for
What is your practice of prayer?
How have you worked to develop a
personal prayer relationship with
God? How has your prayer evolved
and changed as your relationship
with God has changed?
Does your work allow for moments
of prayer? How can your “work”
become a prayer? If that is not realistic,
what other activity can you pursue
that puts prayer into action in
Prayer “invites us to risk conversion
of heart and shifts in priorities.” In
what areas are you in need of such a
conversion or shift in priorities?