Authentic Voice: An Editorial on Prayer

So I want to give you a little peek into the workings of my brain.  It’s a scary place, I know, but I’m sure you’ll meet colorful little people named Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.  (Product placement for “Inside Out!”)
Anyway, so whenever I write a CGB post, the first thing I do is think to myself, “Okay, which one of my bijillion favorite Saints would be the best person to ask for guidance?” So I opened my little book of Saints quotes and I found a few gems:

Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina: “Pray, hope and don’t worry. The Lord is merciful and will hear your prayers.”

Saint Therese of Lisieux: “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

Saint Ambrose’s words to Saint Monica when she was praying for her then-wayward son Augustine, “It is not possible that the child of so many tears should perish.”

Hmm, there’s a certain word that keeps popping up with these quotes. Do you know what it is?

Prayer.

The prayer lives of Padre Pio, Therese and Monica were the center of who they were.
Pio was known for his deep and lofty prayers that would go on for hours—and were sometimes said in Latin. Praying to the Blessed Mother brought tears to his eyes, while praying to Michael the Archangel empowered him to take on the skeptics.
Therese was a humble person who felt so small in comparison to our great God, so her prayers were more like a natural conversation with a friend.
Monica was worried about her son Augustine’s immortal soul, so her prayers were the raw desperate cries of a pleading mother.

It’s interesting to note that these three people prayed in different ways, but they all did the same thing: They communicated with God and shared with Him what was on their hearts. So what do the different prayer lives of these famous Saints tell us about prayer?
It tells us that there is no right way or wrong way to pray. You don’t have to sit in a special position or speak in Latin when you pray.  Your prayers can be as long as the Great Wall of China or as short as your pinky finger.
You can tell God something trivial, such as, “God, thank you for stopping the rain on my way to school/work.” You can say, “That’s a nice flower.  Thanks for creating it, God–squirrel!  Oh, yeah, thank you for the squirrel.”  You can tell God something super important that’s bothering you.
Speaking of which, guess what?  You don’t even have to be happy when you pray. Yes, Christians are called to be joyful, but inner joy, which is found by knowing and loving God, is different than daily happiness.
I hope I don’t sound harsh, but if you only say what you think God wants to hear—the nice, fluffy stuff—that’s not prayer, that’s putting on a show.
He wants the real you.  Don’t be afraid to get angry at God or cry uncontrollably when you pray.  In fact, you don’t have to agree with Him.  Heck, you can argue with Him, doubt Him and question Him.  Trust me, He can handle the uncomfortable emotions that He created.  What He wants to know is what you’re really thinking and feeling.  Like Therese said, He meets us where we are.
Your age doesn’t matter. Whether you got that degree or not; it doesn’t matter. Whether you have an unshakable faith in Him or you’re doubting His existence, it doesn’t matter.  All He wants is you just the way you are.
You have a million thoughts in your head throughout the day, so why not share them with the One who put them there? He doesn’t care where you are, whether you’re at the mall, school or church. He just wants to hear from you. He wants to know what’s on your heart. He wants to hear your authentic voice.

prayer

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