That prayers are not answered is a common complaint and can bring the obvious question: Is there a God to answer our prayers? Our ancestors were faced with the same questions."Even when I cry out for help, he stops my prayer. He has blocked my ways with fitted stones, and turned my paths aside" (Lamentations 3:8-9). "Oh my God, I cry out by day, and you answer not; by night and there is no relief for me" (Psalm 22:3).
In his article in Bible & Life,
a priest reminds us that our ancestors in the faith, being unconcerned
whether an answer was received or not, continued in prayer and examined
themselves, finding a response by redoubling their efforts in following
the will of God.
It was prayer that helped them uncover God's
will. The response to the prayer was not as important as the
relationship, the intimate conversation, the daily understanding--all of
it came as a gift of love, the essence of prayer.
If we are to
discover God's will--unconcerned with our own--patient waiting is
necessary. The answer to prayer may take a lifetime. God's way is not
our way, scripture tells us. Consequently, when praying we need to pray from the heart and give words to our prayer that is pleasing to God.
many have spent hours in fervent prayer with important requests...but
the loved one died, a son never returned from the war, a business
failed, and the divorce did happen. Not surprisingly, many of them gave
up prayer as useless.
Scripture tells us to ask and
it will be given to us, but this is not what most of us experience. The
priest wants us to know that in prayerful asking we are asking for the
Holy Spirit, and that everything
comes with this gift. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can be
unconcerned about whatever comes our way, welcoming both the inevitable
sorrows and the joys of life. The more empty we are of ourselves, he
points out, the freer the
Spirit is to work within us.
When a favorable breeze blows we
do not need the oars. When the Spirit within us is
allowed the freedom to move us, prayer becomes easy and a joy.