As I write, many inches of snow continue to cover the ground, relentlessly reminding us that winter is still with us. However, the memory of winters past confidently assures us that these mounds of white will eventually disappear and green growth will once again appear. Isaiah proclaims that kind of confidence in the power of God’s word: just as snow and rain penetrate the ground and cause it to be fruitful, so God’s word will have its effect! You can count on it!
Jesus’ teaching on prayer likewise instills great confidence. “Don’t bother trying to attract God’s attention by a lot of words,” he says. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him!” Prayer’s purpose is not to inform an absent God of a present need, but rather, as St. Augustine suggests, to enlarge our hearts to be able to receive all the good God wishes to give us. We can count on his knowledge of us and our situation; we can count on his desire to give us good things!
This call to confidence invites these questions: How do I approach prayer? What attitude or image do I bring to prayer’s beginning? Do I imagine its purpose as “awakening” God to my dilemmas? Or do I imagine that the Father already knows my need and wants me to pray today so as to grow in my capacity to receive all that he desires to give?
As we let go of many useless and false things during these Lenten days, so may we pray to remove all that keeps us from confident prayer!
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