The Secret to Praying Better
Do we understand what we are asking?
“Father, would you teach me how to pray better?”
People are always surprised when I answer, “No,” so I have to explain. I tell them that, “Jesus never said, ‘Pray better.’ He never said, ‘Pray well.’ He didn’t even say, ‘Pray often.’ He did say, ‘Pray always’” (Luke 18:1).
If we are to pray always, as Jesus said, we must learn to live in the presence of God, Who is our loving Father Who wants the best for us. We must learn to be open to the mysticism of immediacy; we must be available to and alert for God’s revelation of Himself at each moment and in every circumstance. God does not stop working in creation, and God does not stop speaking to creation. If only our eyes and hearts were open to see Him.
Of course, that finding of God in the thick of things, including daily busyness, times of crisis, and seasons of joy and sorrow, must be complemented by a rhythm of withdrawal from the fray so that we can be alone with God Who is with us always. Jesuits mean this when we speak of God calling us to be “contemplatives in action.”
The only good prayer is to pray always. At every moment, even in the most chaotic and unlikely moments, God is at work and can be found. That openness to seeing God at every moment must be strengthened and refreshed by the freedom necessary to withdraw ourselves, as circumstances allow, so that we may have time alone with the Lord. We may always draw near to God, always and everywhere, but the wisdom of the saints and Scriptures teaches us that sometimes, to draw near to God, we must withdraw from the world, at least for a while.
Pray better? Not really. Pray more? Sometimes. Pray always? Yes! As the Lord commanded!