Prayer is a savvy way to trade our sorrows for joy. It’s about sharing a conversation with an unseen, yet relational God, who sees beyond our intentions and chooses to either invade the situation or allow us mature through them. Prayer is all about intentions. But it is also God’s own way of weighing in on our spiritual maturity.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican friar, teaches readers through his Thomistic scholarship something about prayer. In his work, he urges Christians to pray with confidence, a confidence that is directly related to the words of “The Lord’s Prayer” itself. For example, saying that our father ‘is in heaven’, implies that God is supreme and has the power to grant us anything we ask of Him. It is a sense of submission and recognizing God’s authority over all of creation. Regardless, God refuses a miracle and allows us to feel pain to make us better. Trust me, you don’t need that miracle. Point-blank!
St. Aquinas notes that The Lord’s Prayer is the most effective of prayers because it was given to us by Christ himself. He states further that even if we are not praying the exact words of The Lord’s Prayer, we are still praying it in some way, since all prayer paraphrases it. Yet we are reminded by St. Aquinas that we are not commanded by Christ to repeat the very words of The Lord’s Prayer, rather, as Christ himself said, we are ‘to pray in this manner’ (Matt. 6:9 NKJ).
Prayer is the most effective type of conversation. It does not border on the length neither does God answer prayers on account of your charismatic loudness. It is a matter of the heart. Thomas Aquinas advises us not to feel guilty if our prayers are short or if we become distracted in our prayers because of the steep pressure of our situation. We are reminded that God sees beyond those tears and searches our hearts to comprehend the intention with which we begin our prayer and not so concerned with how we end it. Much more, we are challenged to trust God enough to answer our prayers as He wills.
There are plenty of spiritual teachings on prayer, most of which emphasize why we should pray rather than what prayer really is. At core, we must always remember that Our Father… is a humble prayer of petition, but at most, says St. Aquinas, a prayer which allows us to engage in a direct and intimate dialogue with God.
Speaking from experience, I have learned however that you can’t effectively pray if you are not broken enough to accept the response of the Alpha and Omega, who knows the end from the beginning. God is looking for prayer ‘warriors’ in whose hearts His response will make strong.
Prayer is a dialogue between friends. And if God is our friend and father, He has every right to deny us of the things we are not yet mature for, even when it hurts Him so bad not to release it.
Prayerfulness is a sense of maturity.