“When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”
How do we cry out to God? In this passage of Matthew today, Jesus contrasts the prayer of the pagans to that of the simple prayer to Our Father. He changes the way to think about prayer in one simple lesson. Prayer is about relationship, a relationship between the Father in heaven and his sons and daughters here in the world. No longer should prayer be completely ritualistic and mechanical, but it should be relational.
Through many dark, distressing times and challenging moments, sometimes the only answer is to reach out to God. At times, it is hard to hope. The fact is when we are going through times of sadness and depression and we feel completely crushed, this is the moment when God is nearest to us. Often the times we think God is silent is often when He is actually the closest.
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Our Father knows our needs and our hearts better than we do. He knows what we are made for: an eternal life in heaven. How do we learn to hope? As Pope Benedict wrote in his encyclical Spe Salvi, “A first essential setting for learning hope is prayer. When no one listens to me any more, God still listens to me. When I can no longer talk to anyone or call upon anyone, I can always talk to God. When there is no longer anyone to help me deal with a need or expectation that goes beyond the human capacity for hope, he can help me.”
Prayer is necessary for hope. Within prayer, God seeks to communicate His love to us. He wants to meet us where we are and teach us how to pray. During this time of Lenten prayer, how can we increase our hope in God?
Jessie Tappel, M.S., Communications Director, Divine Mercy University