A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Tea and Conversation

Posted on: November 6, 2014

This week, I had tea at the home of a friend who attends my church.

There’s something about sitting down with a cup of coffee or tea and enjoying some good conversation. (Much as I enjoy the chatter of my zebra finches, it’s just not the same.) Before we knew it, a couple of hours had flown by.

I’d like to think I’m not alone in wishing my prayer time with God were more like that.

When I’m at Eucharistic adoration, the time does fly. Somehow it seems easier to pray in a holy place, with Jesus exposed on the altar in the monstrance, candles burning, statues and icons and stained-glass windows around me, a kneeler beneath my knees, and virtual silence.

twozebrafinches

As our finches know, there’s a time to talk and a time to listen…

For most of us, our day-to-day prayer life isn’t like that. But wouldn’t it be nice to have more of a conversation with God, the way we would with a friend?

Think about how we behave when we talk with friends. We try not to monopolize the conversation. We ask how they’re doing, how things are going. We talk and we take the time to listen.

If we think about our prayer lives, it’s too easy to treat God as though he were a genie waiting to grant our requests or the manager of the complaints department waiting to hear a litany of everything wrong in our lives and in the world. Of course God wants us to pray about the things that worry us about our personal situations, those we love, and our community and beyond. But prayer can and should be so much more.

Our prayer lives could be more like the Mass, where we confess our shortcomings and sins, praise God for who he is, thank him for the ways he has blessed and continues to bless us, pray for our needs, and be strengthened for the week ahead.

Maybe we don’t have the time to do this all in one sitting, but we might over the course of the day:

  • A prayer to thank God for the gift of another day and to commit that day to him.
  • A prayer of thanks during the day, even for something small that we notice, like the beauty of a bird’s song.
  • A prayer of thanks when we receive news that’s welcome, like the news of a friend’s remission from cancer, or for comfort when we hear news that hurts or saddens us, like the loss of a loved one.
  • A prayer at the end of the day to ask God’s forgiveness for the things we’ve done wrong, like the way we’ve hurt someone with sharp words, and to ask him for strength to do better the next day.

If we feel we just can’t find the right words to talk to God because he is holy and we are not, we need to remember that God knows us and loves us where we are now. We can use prayers others have written, but at some point we won’t find the words to express our feelings in prayers written down in someone else’s voice. God doesn’t need or want our words to be polished and perfect; what he wants is to know us, and that means we need to pray from the heart.

We also need to listen for God’s side of the conversation. We might have a strong sense of his presence, hear his voice in a moment of silence, or receive an answer in a dream or in something that just can’t be a coincidence. But we need to remember that, in his way and in his time, God answers us.

I pray that we would take the time to share more of our hearts with God and especially to listen, just as we would with a friend.

Believe that he loves you. He wants to help you himself in the struggles which you must undergo. Believe in his love, his exceeding love.

~ Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, quoted in “Quiet moments, daily inspiration, feasts, and fun for November,” Catholic Digest, November 2014

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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