Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sorting the Keys to Prayer

Several years ago, I had a wonderful experience observing and then volunteering at a workshop for developmentally-delayed adults in which they would perform menial tasks for a fee or salary. They would work at these tasks during the morning hours and in the afternoon would partake in cooking, hygiene, or arts and crafts classes.

I vividly remember one handsome client who was close to my age at the time. He was accidently starved of oxygen after his premature birth, thus causing his developmental issues. He was absolutely meticulous regarding details. He was responsible for separating various sizes of nuts that would later be matched with their corresponding screws. The nuts came in 25-pound bags.

I can remember sitting down next to John and marveling at his prowess in determining which screw belonged to which group. You see, because of my dyslexia, I cannot easily determine the size of circles, let alone ones smaller than others. But, John sure could! He could sort each screw perfectly, completing the bag in about an hour.

I am reminded of this as I continue my series on prayer. In the book “13 Powerful Ways to Pray,” Eamon Tobin describes four essential “keys” to an effective relationship with God: “1. Developing a positive image of God and self; 2. Being honest with God; 3. Connecting prayer with daily life; 4. Listening to God in prayer.” 1

Tobin goes on to explain that these “keys” are not a way in which we “strong arm” God into having a relationship with us. Nor do they give us the ability to put God in a “box” so that we can understand Him better. This is the wrong attitude. We need to come to God as humble children; His children. Prayer is a gift that allows us to crawl up into God’s “lap” and chat with Him about our day, our concerns, our plans; basically our life. God first draws us to him. He actually “hungers” after us!

We all know folks who “say prayers,” but their behavior and lifestyle are somewhat less than desired, and in fact, can actually turn other folks off to everything about God. The keys that are listed above can create an environment that leads a soul to effective prayer. This type of prayer begins a relationship of trust and love between God as our Creator and we as His sons and daughters. This type of prayer “helps us to face evil courageously and place our trust in God …. [It] opens us to the experience of God’s unconditional love and acceptance of His incomprehensible ways. It gradually helps us to be attentive and responsive to the needs of others, especially the poor. Finally, effective prayer should help us accept and integrate the different dimensions and strivings of our being.” 2

You see, prayer does not change God; it changes us! It heals us and makes us a better version of ourselves. Just like the nuts that John so painstakingly sorted those so many years ago were meant to be paired with a screw, prayer opens us to God and others in a profound way!

It is my prayer that you allow God to sort through the bags that you are not willing to discard!

1Tobin, Eamon. 13 Powerful Ways to Pray. Beacon Publishing, 2016. Pg. 12.
2 Eamon, pg. 13.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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