Prayer, a response to God's Call
"We love because he first loved us" 1 Jn 4:19. St. John reminds us with this simple statement a great truth about God. He loved us into existence. He thirsts for our love. Although God desires us to seek Him that seeking is always a response. Prayer is a response to the call of God to enter into communion with Him. Our second reason to develop a stable prayer life is God's call: "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thes 5:17), "Watch and pray" (Mt 26:41), "Pray at all times" (Eph 6:18). Simply stated, we should pray because God asks us to pray.
The Creator of the universe, who created out of gratuitous love, asks us to enter into communion with Him: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Praying is not be based on our desire for God, or our personal initiative, or to receive valuable gifts from Him, but because the One who created us wants us to pray. He knows us better than we know ourselves; therefore, we should trust that He has a good reason for asking us to pray. His plans for us are infinitely beyond anything that we can imagine or desire.
Our prayer life is driven by faith. Faith is obedience to God's invitation, and trust in the One who invites. We cannot even imagine the profoundly positive consequences of a humble and sincere response to this call. If we hope to obtain the graces and gifts that we want from prayer, then we run the risk of being disappointed. The benefits of prayer are neither instant nor measurable nor many times what we want. The gift of prayer is more profound than that for which we ask. Prayer is a relationship of love with God. He is not a grandpa who wants to give us candy. God is a good and loving Father who wants to gift to us eternal life. If we pray with a humble attitude and submit to God's will, then we will always have the grace to persevere.
We will persist through the times that are dry and difficult because we trust in the One who has asked us to pray. We know He is close to us even in the times we do not recognize or feel it. Prayer deepens this trust while at the same time relying on it to help us persevere. This attitude of loving, trusting obedience is most profitable for our prayer life. Prayer will be abundant and beneficial to the degree that we do not desire to obtain anything from it, but approach it in obedience to the Divine call.
God knows what is good for us and that should be enough. We do not have to justify the time we spend in prayer. It is enough that God has asked us to "waste time" with Him. It is never a waste of time of course, but always beneficial and transformative. The more our prayer is done freely, not for a reward, the more it will bear fruit for this life and the next. Prayer that is done as a response to God's call is done out of love. Prayer is a response of love to Love.
Let us entrust ourselves to God and do whatever he asks of us, as Mary instructs the servants at the wedding feast of Cana and us - "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5). We should pray because God asks us to pray. He knows what we need and what will satisfy our hearts, which is Him alone. God will always, therefore, give us a deeper share of His divine life through prayer.
I am a Catholic priest writing about Catholic things.