September 30, 2009

Talking to God

Unlike a mother bird pushing its young from the nest, we don't just send our children right into the deep. When we teach a child to swim, where do we start? We teach them to float, then perhaps to doggie paddle, then to really swim. When we teach how to walk, we start with a crawl and with balance, before walking and running.

When we start in prayer, we "talk at God" (Thibodeaux, 2001, p.17); we get comfortable with the idea and the action of prayer. We are God's children, and these are our first baby steps in prayer. After we're comfortable with the idea and we've incorporated a little "talking at God" into our daily lives, we can take the next step. After talking at God in rote prayer we can start talking to God.

But what do I say to God?

Consider what we can learn from Jesus' own prayer. To be "Christian" is to follow Christ, so let's follow His example in prayer. Jesus' prayer included bold petition, praise of God's goodness, and gratitude for God's gifts. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2599-2606)

When you start to talk to God, in your own words, Jesus' example is a trustworthy guide. Use this framework as a constant guide for how and what to say, a frame on which to hang your own words in confidence, faith, and love.

Today, pray in your own words to God. Thank Him for a gift you received today - for family, for a happy occasion, for the gift of a new day itself. Praise God's goodness in giving us life and the chance to know Him. And ask God, boldly, for what you need, as a child would confidently ask a caring father.

Thibodeaux, Mark E. Armchair Mystic. Cincinatti: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2001.

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