Our need for prayer (Part I)

By Engr. Carlos Cornejo

One time a friend of mine asked me, “How come only few people come to church to pray?”  “Because prayer is not a business transaction.” I replied. “It is not like you go to a store, hand over some money and an item you want is handed over to you in return.”  Imagine if prayer is like buying something, then our churches would be jampacked every day.  It would be like attending a Mass on the feast of Santo Niṅo at the Basilica itself. Overflowing to the brim.

But prayer is always heard and answered.  Often times we just did not persevere enough to get what we asked for.  Most of us are like those people of whom John Mason said, “The reason many people don’t get answers from God is the same reason a thief doesn’t find a policeman:  they are running away.”  Meaning they went to church once or twice asking God for something and then stopped coming because they thought they were not heard.  A spiritual writer once said, “There are three ways God would answer our prayer:  Sorry, it’s not good for you.  Not yet, and yes of course, I thought you would not ask.”

Perseverance is important in prayer because it is not just about getting what we ask for.  It is how we become in the process of asking.  Remember that God is a lover.  He wants to develop a relationship with us.  Like a good father, God is happy that we are asking something from Him because it shows dependence and humility on our part acknowledging we can’t do everything on our own.  But more important to God than our petition is the petitioner itself.  That we develop a relationship with Him and not just go to Him and pray because we need something.  What usually happens when the petitioner gets or not get what he has prayed for?  Only two outcomes but with the same over-all result.  If the praying person gets what he asked for, he gives thanks to God for the favor maybe once or twice and then stops coming to church until he needs something again.  But if after praying twice or thrice he feels that his prayers have fell into deaf ears, he stops coming because he thinks prayer is useless.  The result is always not coming often.  God answers our prayers in the way He wants it and when He wants it, in the best possible way.

Praying should be like going home.  We come home to our family every day after a day’s work from office or school.  We are eager to come home because we want to be with our family enjoying our rest and relaxation in their company.  We want to share stories with them with what happened in school or work or just to be with them.  Being with your loved ones, feeling the warmth of their love and affection is what a family is all about.  God is longing for that kind of gesture too.  He wants us to come home to Him, converse with Him, and feel the warmth of His love and affection.  We have to come home to Him every day because we don’t only have a biological family but we also have a spiritual family where God our Father (and we also have a mother) is eagerly waiting to be with us in prayer.   We don’t even have to go to church; we can always meet Him at the confines of our home.  And how should we pray?  There is no one effective method to pray.  No one size that fits all.  The important thing in prayer is to do it.  Just pray according to who you are or according to your personality.  God deals with us according to our unique character.  More on prayer in the next article.