Pat is really trying to make the most of this Lenten season. He has been faithful to going to Mass and receiving the Sacraments for several years now. But before this he had been really tepid about his faith. He would go to Mass when he could, but if other things got in the way, or he was just too tired, he figured to himself, “God won’t mind, he understands…”. It certainly wasn’t a priority to him. All that changed, though, when he was in a pretty serious car accident which was the result of his drinking and driving. The fall out from that experience was pretty scary, and he knew he needed to get himself back on the right path. Pat can say for certain now that his faith is the thing that’s keeping him together.
So, one of the things that he is making a priority this Lent is being faithful to a time for prayer each day. Now he knows enough to work with a manageable amount of time. A priest said that to one time in confession: Don’t say your going to pray for an hour everyday if you know that will be “mission impossible”. Start with something that you think is doable and allow the Lord to give you the grace to grow from there. But this time is not to be spent just “saying” prayers, but also being quiet and allowing God to speak to him. So there needs to be some quiet time in what is usually a hectic day. Yet there lies the problem, or at least the question. How do I listen to God? When I’m finished with what I have to say, then what? Is that supposed to be the end of the “session”.
There actually were times that Pat thought God was speaking to him. Maybe it was through a passage of Scripture he read, or perhaps it was something that another person said to him that really hit home. Or there were even times that he thought Jesus was speaking to him—-almost whispering in his ear. Words like, “I will protect you”, or “I am taking care of this”, or “There’s no need to be afraid”. There were even times when the circumstances around him suggested that God was answering his prayers.
When these kinds of things happened, Pat would ask himself: “I is this real? Or is this just me making this stuff up? Is it just a coincidence? He spoke to his spiritual director about it and the director said, “I think God is beating you over the head trying to show you that He’s listening. What more do you want?” Then he sort of smiled at Pat and said, “O you of little faith.”
I think this applies to many of us too! We say we believe, but do we really? What must Abraham have been thinking when he first heard God’s promise of descendants as numerous as the stars! Yet, as things began to unfold in his life, he began to see that what God was telling him was true—-was real!
I think that happens to us as well. We are slow to believe, but as we see things play out in our life, we start to see things differently. And like the character in the story I told you, we have to go through struggles to be convinced, first of all, that we really need God in our life, and, secondly, that all the other things we tried to make us happy, were an illusion.
The story of Abram (Abraham) begins with the reading we heard today. It’s the unfolding story of the covenant that God makes with his people—-the covenant that he makes with all of us through Christ. God is asking us to stand with him through good times and bad times—-to stay faithful even when things look dark and bleak. For God will make all things work out for good for those who love him. Prayer is so important for us to be able to do our part. Covenant is about relationship, and we the best way to have a relationship with the Lord is to pray!
Ask God for the desire to pray. Start now, today (tonight). Go along with God and no longer live a life empty of hope and trust!!