Benedict XVI recently gave a new series of teaching on the subject of prayer. I found out his teaching articles from Oka’s blog.

Prayer is one subject that I have known for some times,but still struggling to practice it as part of my life. We won’t pray unless we understand how important prayer is. Until we are really convinced that praying is very important.

I find praying is becoming more important in my life especially when I am reflecting and contemplating on my life. I have many questions that are not answer yet such as:

  • What is the meaning, the aim of my life?
  • Which is the road to true happiness?
  • Why do we suffer and what purpose does it serve?
  • Whence do we come, and where are we going?

In the second teaching entitled On the Universal Religious Sense ( Man Bears within Himself the Desire for God), he mentioned that

Man bears within himself a thirst for the infinite, a nostalgia for eternity, a search for beauty, a desire for love, a need for light and truth, which drive him toward the Absolute; man bears within himself the desire for God

Perhaps this is the reason behind my questions, and if it is true, I believe these questions do not belong to mine only but universally asked. I have been trying to find the answers of these questions from many sources, but recently God reminds me where to find the answer, in Him.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart,
I will be found by you, says the LORD

Jeremiah 29 : 11-14

There are three things that I learned from this teaching:

1. Man has the desire for God, and it is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God (CCC No. 27)

This statement affirms on my life experience. My desire for God, or perhaps curiosity arose internally. I dont buy the idea that if we dont pray then God will punish me. I was attracted to God because of His love not His power. I believe this statement is universal, applicable to everybody. We are not God’s toy that we have no other choice but to come to Him, indeed we have this grace that comes from God himself called free will.

2. Prayer is an interior attitude, rather than a series of practices and formulas, a way of being before God, rather than carrying out acts of worship or pronouncing words

I used to believe that there is a killer method to pray. I thought prayer is like a direct line to heaven, such that anytime I want I could just call and there will always someone pick my call. But God is not a call center or customer service officer. Especially after reading opening to God by Fr Thomas Green, I learned that prayer is more like a face to face meeting.

3. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation (CCC No. 2567)

I lost count how many times I missed my daily prayer. But there were times when I felt so strongly the desire to pray. When I was having exam, or job hunt. When I was sick. When I was in desperation. When I was losing my sense of direction in life. When I felt lonely. When I was surmised by many good things that happened. When my prayer was answered.

I am very grateful above all that God never give up calling me back to Him.

And even if man forgets his Creator, the living and true God does not fail to call man to the mysterious encounter of prayer.

We all have a longing for Love, a desire to an Infinite Beauty, a thirst and hunger for Truth. Let us acknowledge this desire in us. This desire for God is the soul of prayer. Like what St Thomas Aquinas said about prayer “expression of man’s desire for God.”

Lastly I would like to extend Pope Ben invitation to all of us:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us learn to spend more time before God, let us learn to recognize in silence the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, to recognize in the depth of ourselves his voice that calls us and leads us back to the profundity of our existence, to the fount of life, to the source of salvation, to make us go beyond the limits of our life and to open ourselves to the measure of God, to the relationship with Him who is Infinite Love. Thank you!