Sometimes in prayer I get “lost in the Lord”… his words and ways come into focus…. I profess my love for the Lord and my desire to do his holy will. As I jot down thoughts in my journal … directions and plans and hopes and dreams become more clear. I feel courage increasing. It doesn’t happen this way all the time, but when it does, I feel God’s presence and his pleasure.
These are wonderful moments. Yet as we leave these times of prayer, life will intervene…. we now need to “put our money where our mouth is.” Life will be there to test us, to determine if we were really hearing the Lord, or were the thoughts simply “pious platitudes”…. good, but not necessarily marching orders from God. Hmmmmm.
I have to say that there are times when the inspirations I bring from these prayer times lead to some good actions… usually nothing earth shattering in themselves, but nevertheless, actions that yield some good fruit…. perhaps calling a friend and meeting them for lunch in order to encourage them…. doing a simple act of kindness for my wife or kids or grandkids…. reading a certain book…. even an idea for a future BLOG….”woe, St. Paul move over”.
We need to pay attention to these “inspirations” received in prayer. If we don’t believe we can hear from God in prayer, why pray? Certainly we want to stay balanced and avoid the extremes of “gee, God never says anything to me or I’m St. Paul caught up into the 3rd heaven…listen to me…..(2Cor. 12:2-4)”, but let’s use our head. Time will test us if the inspiration was from God or from too much “spaghetti and meatballs along with Uncle Fred’s homemade wine”.
Believing that God speaks to us in prayer should help us to approach our prayer with greater expectation, with some real excitement. I can bring my “laundry list” of needs to prayer, expecting that the Lord will speak to me, show me my role in their resolution….. “okay Dave, I know you’re praying for your grandchild who is sick…here’s how I want you to participate…. send “him/her” a note of encouragement with a candy bar… and keep praying for them.” This may not be St. Paul getting marching orders from the 3rd heaven, but if it’s from God, do it.
A final thought is that the Lord generally directs us in the “arena” that he has placed us….. in my case the arena of a retired father and grandfather and husband, not in the arena of giving speeches to Congress or flying to Rome to speak to the Cardinals and the Pope. Now you are likely in a different arena and your directions from God will fit with that arena. (Note: St. Joan of Arc was an exception, going from farm girl to military leader of France…. probably not God’s call for you and me.)
P.S Also remember the daily prayer of St. John Paul II …. Holy Spirit help me to “begin, continue, and finish my work well.” Amen.