Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Watch What You Pray For

We have had two gorgeous days here on Isle of Palms. Played golf yesterday with my brother-in law over at Dunes West. Great day despite the 100 score I had and the many lessons of humility I receive every time I play. Golf is so much like life but I'll save that for another day.

This morning I had the opportunity to attend daily Mass and a nice surprise after Mass was that the priest and a dozen or so others stuck around for Morning Prayer. Saying the Liturgy of the Hours with a group, I find, is much more fulfilling than praying them alone.

When I got home I had some breakfast with the kids and then took a few minutes to pray the Office of Readings for today. Today's second reading was taken from "The Way of Perfection" by Saint Teresa of Avila and as I read it I thought how many times in a meeting (or elsewhere) that we here the phrase "watch what you pray for, you may just get it!".

It opens with, "When asking a favor of some person of importance would anyone be so ill-mannered and thoughtless as not first to consider how best to address him in order to make a good impression and give no cause for offense? Surely he would think over his petition carefully and his reason for asking it, especially if it were for something specific and important as our good Jesus tells us our petitions should be."

How many times have I prayed without thinking? How many times have I asked for what I thought were immediate needs but would have long-term consequences. I think about the times where I have had to ask people for something (an employer for a raise or promotion, a parent for something "big", a child for something that they may not like, etc.) and how I play the scene through my mind many times before I approach them. On the other hand, I may not think at all about a request I am going to make of Jesus, expecting him to come through as long as it is His will.

On the other hand, how much greater would that prayer and petition be if we take the time to think it through. What do I really need? What is God's will for me? Today? Tomorrow? St. Teresa goes on, "O Eternal Wisdom, between you and your Father that was enough; that was how you prayed in the garden. You expressed your desire and fear but surrendered yourself to his will. But as for us, Lord, you know that we are less submissive to the will of your Father and need to mention each thing separately in order to stop and think whether it would be good for us, and otherwise not ask for it. You see, the gift our Lord intends for us may be by far the best, but if it is not what we wanted we are quite capable of flinging it back in his face. That is the kind of people we are; ready cash is the only wealth we understand". I can relate. Can you?

Recently a fellow Calix member shared about how she would pray for patience. Rather than receiving the gift of patience she would get a series of "opportunities" to be patient in order to learn patience. None of us have experienced that, right? But we curse those "opportunities" until we come to realize, sometimes many years later, that we have become patient. So it begs the question, do we ever really know what's good for us? Or, should we focus more on what God's will is for us and surrender to Him who knows what's best for us?

And, as a side note, my Latin-English Missal booklets arrived today. Time to start studying for Mass this coming Sunday!

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