“Once a man was asked, ‘What did you gain regularly praying to God?’ The man replied, ‘Nothing. But let me tell you what I lost: anger, ego, greed, depression, insecurity, and fear of death.’ Sometimes, the answer to our prayers is not gaining but losing, which ultimately is the gain.” ~ Unknown
There are many times in our lives that we look at things the wrong way. Prayer, easily, can be one of those things/times. So often, people go to prayer in order to gain something. They plead with God for favor of some kind. They petition the Lord because they are in need. As they do so, they do not really leave any room for God to speak with them. They simply tell God what it is they want.
When we make prayer one-sided, we are already on the wrong track. Prayer is not lecturing to God. Prayer is not placing demands before God. Prayer, rather, is a two-way conversation: speaking AND listening. When we pray properly, then, we have the ability to lose some of those things enumerated in today’s quote. We soften our anger until we have the grace to drop it completely. We align our ego rightly. We temper greed and turn it into generosity. We see depression leave us as we are filled with the peace and hopefulness of God. We become more secure in ourselves and in our faith. We lose the fear of death because we have confidence in our future, a future that involves eternal life with God.
What do we have to gain and lose when we pray to God regularly? Everything! Therefore, we need to make sure that we understand the dynamics of prayer and enter into prayer willingly. Sometimes, people are reluctant to pray or say that they get nothing out of prayer because prayer was something that was foisted upon them when they were younger. Their parents, grandparents, or teachers may have “made” them pray. They may have felt that they were forced to pray by the priests in church.
All of that may have been true. They may have looked upon an education of prayer as something that was mandated by others. However, they were taught to pray so that they might feel capable and more invited to pray in the future. No one can force desire. If someone does not want to have a conversation with God, the prayer will be lifeless and listless.
The reminder of the necessity to pray, however, can be a good thing. When we are feeling lost, when we are searching for direction in our lives, we can find it in God. The easiest path to Him is through prayer.
FAITH ACTION: Ask God to help you lose some of the things that keep you from drawing as close to Him as possible. And, if you’ve wandered too far away from Him recently, consider going to confession this afternoon. Confessions are heard in most parishes on Saturday afternoons.