Continuing with the exploration and reflection through a series of articles written in a conversational language about Catholicism, about God, about Jesus, about the Church and many other faith related topics. Here we present:
Question 46 – Is prayer useful?
The question of the usefulness of prayer* is often asked. However, this is not a good question. Prayer is not useful in the sense that it would make you smarter or richer. You can compare prayer with just spending time with a friend. No matter how good and important this is for the friendship, it does not provide any measurable added value.
Christians do believe that prayer is meaningful. Prayer changes a person because in it you are brought closer to the core of life. Opening yourself to God* helps to distinguish the important from the incidental. It sharpens the gaze and widens the heart. Prayer gives strength and courage. The Gospels* tell us that Jesus* often prayed. Sometimes all night long.
Many people love to pray with gospel stories. By praying and listening to Jesus, you can get to know him better, love him more and be more like him. It brings you closer to God and can make you a better man or woman.
In the Gospel, Jesus invites people several times to ask God in prayer for everything that is close to their heart. ‘If you ask something, you will get it’ (Lk 11:9) Jesus literally says. This is sometimes called a prayer of petition. But experience teaches that God is not a Saint Nicholas (or Santa Claus) who serves at your beck and call. Often God’s answer to your questions will be very different from what is expected or hoped for – he has something better in store for you. Christians indeed believe that God knows his people better than they know themselves. That is why God knows better what a person really needs. This makes prayer an exercise in letting go of your own answers and trusting in what God wants to offer you.
– Has prayer ever changed something in your life?
– What makes a prayer meaningful to you?
Watch this space! Coming up: Question 47 – Does God have a plan for everyone?
Follow these links to go back to previous questions
If you wish to learn more about this resource follow this link “52 Questions and Answers about faith”
About the author:
Nikolaas Sintobin, SJ, joined the Society of Jesus in 1989, following a short career as a lawyer. He was trained as a Jesuit in Brussels, Paris, and Santiago de Chile. Today he is a spiritual director who is keenly interested in online ministry and discovering new ways to help people find God.
This text is republished with the permission of Messenger Publications, Ireland. To buy a hard copy of the book click here.