Unlike the parent who is of the same nature as his or her offspring, God does not demand that we become increasingly self-reliant. To be fully human is to rely fully on God.
Growth in the spiritual life means learning to become more and more dependent on God. It means learning to pray for everything, all the time (1 Th 5, 17). As a child pesters his parents, we are directed to “pester” God: “…persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants” (Lk 11, 8). The difference is that God wants us to persist and harass, because He created us to provide us with an ever increasing share in the good: “For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread?” (Lk 11, 10-11)
Despite advances in medicine, we simply don’t have dominion over health, and so we must pray for our health and the health of others. We must pray always for the success of our undertakings, pray when driving that we arrive safely. We must pray at the beginning of the day, during the day, in the evening, and at night. We must pray for the needs of those we encounter during the day, for it does not always occur to us to pray for those divine providence places on our path. We have to pray for our children, that they be given the gift of prayer, that they learn to love God, that they do well in school so as to be able to better serve God in the future, that they do not become attached to bad friends, that they be given the grace to resist temptation to choices that will scar them for life. Many parents have lost their children because they were very liberal in this regard.
Children have very little control. And there is so much that human beings simply have no control over. My mother used to remind me how all of us are really only one freak accident away from ending up on the street. A bump on the head from a fallen object or a car accident can change our entire life, causing us to lose our home, our job, and our livelihood.
But God is in control. And so we have to pray for protection, to remain grateful, and to remain thankful; and we have to pray that others be sent into our lives to help us. And we have to pray for our political leaders, that they do not lead the country into chaos.
God is not our equal. He made us dependent, and so our lives must be immersed in prayer. This is difficult to learn because of parental voices that continue to admonish us against being overly dependent. Those voices need to be ignored because those words are not His words. He says: “Stay awake and pray always” (Lk 21, 26).
Douglas McManaman. "Depending on Prayer". (2006).
Reprinted with permission of Douglas McManaman.
Douglas McManaman is a high school religion teacher with the York Catholic District School Board in Ontario. He is currently teaching at Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in Markham, Ontario and maintains a web site, A Catholic Philosophy and Theology Resource Page, in support of his students. He studied Philosophy at St. Jerome's College in Waterloo, and Theology at the University of Montreal. Mr. McManaman is the past President of the Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.
Copyright © 2006 Douglas McManaman