2nd Sunday of Lent – March 17, 2019
When was the last time you went away from the business of the world and spent at least 10 minutes in quiet prayer? As Catholics, I know we are good with reciting the memorized prayers such as the Rosary, the Our Father and the Apostles’ Creed. These are good prayers, but what I’m really asking is… when was the last time you’ve had a deep, heartfelt conversation with God. After all, isn’t that what prayer is… a conversation with God? And the key thing to consider here is that this form of prayer involves both a speaking AND, more importantly, a quiet listening. It is a dialogue that was not meant to be one sided.
One of the problems we encounter in life is… we tend to go to God mainly when we are in desperate need… almost as a last resort.
“Dear God, help me pass this test that I forgot to study for.”
“Dear God, if I win the lottery I’ll give 10%, no 15%, back to the church.”
But we also have those desperate, but more serious situations as well.
“Dear God, heal my friend from their serious illness.”
“Dear God, help me forgive the person who hurt me so I can trust again.”
We, as humans, expect instant results. Things should happen now, not later. So we say our prayer and expect an immediate answer, right?. But guess what… the majority of us typically don’t get a loud voice from above with an instant response. That often leads us to then ask, “Where are you God? See, I tried. I prayed and told you what I needed and I got nothing in return. Why do I even bother?” Then our prayer life gets pushed farther and farther away from our daily routine.
If this resonates with you in any way, I’m here to encourage you to change your daily routine. I want to encourage you to pray, not just in those times of need, but EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. regardless of your needs. Regardless of whether or not you “feel” like praying. After all, we are in the Lenten Season. This is a time we are supposed to try and step away from the world… to disconnect from some of our earthly distractions… and prepare ourselves to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. As Fr. Al reminded us last week, Lent is a time to focus on fasting, almsgiving and… guess what… PRAYER. So let’s talk about prayer.
Today’s Gospel from Luke is commonly referred to as the “Transfiguration.” I want us to look at this passage and see what it could be telling us regarding prayer.
The first major thing we should notice is in the opening verse, “Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up the mountain to pray.” Have you ever wondered why Jesus went up a mountain to pray? To get away. To find some peace and quiet. It’s awfully hard to hear God’s voice when you can’t even hear yourself think. If you are a parent with kids at home, you know exactly what I mean. I think kids deliberately get LOUDER the quieter you try and become. It’s like they can sense it! So it’s important to find a place that you can spend some uninterrupted time in prayer. I suggest starting with 10 minutes. It’s not a magical number but it’s a doable number for most people.
Unfortunately, when I began trying to make deliberate time to pray, I’d often fall asleep. I began to realize I was always on the go and finally getting a chance to sit down for 10 minutes was all it took to doze off. This leads me to the second suggestion from today’s Gospel regarding prayer. “Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory.” Let me say that again. Becoming fully awake, they saw his glory.
This has two meanings to me. One, don’t pray when you are super tired because you’ll miss something due to the fact you will end up asleep! But more importantly, if you want to see God’s glory and possibly hear His voice, you need to be “awake” to His presence around you. Praying daily keeps you focused on God… every day. It puts Him in front of your eyes rather than on the back burner. When you pray frequently, you will actually start to see that God is more active in your life than you originally thought. But you have to be fully awake to Him because, from my experience, God can be very, very subtle… so much so that you may miss it if you’re not paying attention or you’ll blow it off as a coincidence when He does answer a prayer.
Have you ever heard the story of the guy driving around the parking lot at the mall on a busy, rainy Saturday morning? He’s driving around looking for a parking spot up close to the front door so he can get inside without getting too wet. But there is not a single parking spot available anywhere near the front. So out of frustration the man looks up to heaven and says, “God, could you please find me a parking spot up close to the front?” Just then, someone starts backing out of a space right up near the front door. The man slams on his brakes… then quickly looks up and says, “Never mind God, I found a spot.”
Unfortunately, God doesn’t typically give us a bright, flashing neon sign with an answer. He often speaks to us in the quiet of our hearts.
The last point I want to emphasize from today’s Gospel is in the last verse. After Peter, James and John heard the voice of God in a cloud, it says that, “They fell silent.” I can’t emphasize enough the importance of silence when it comes to prayer. Silence allows time to reflect on what we are praying about. It allows that voice in our brains to go to work. It also allows us to reflect on the fact that maybe God isn’t answering a prayer the way we want for a reason. You’ll be surprised at what you can hear when you combine silence with the Holy Spirit.
Use this Lenten season to strengthen your prayer life. Take 10 minutes every single day to have a dialogue with God. Remember to find a place to get away, be fully awake and allow for some silence. And in those 10 minutes, ask God for help… tell Him what is in your heart. At the very least, tell Him that you love Him and thank Him for the blessings in your life. I promise that if you do this, you will become a more humble, appreciative and loving human being.
So make prayer a daily priority in your life. 10 minutes a day. It’s not much, but it’s so extremely important. God is waiting to hear from you. But it’s up to you… to start the conversation.