Why Bother Praying?

The second piece of wisdom that I have found sustaining comes from father Frank Wallace who in 1991 published a book on prayer entitled Encounter, Not Performance (Newtown: EJ Dwyer). It changed my prayer life. Frank Wallace outlined that while he was always dutiful to Mass, meditation, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, and the Ignatian Examen, it was not until he had pow­erful experiences of his faith through the Cursillo and Marriage Encounter movements that he came to see that prayer was not about doing things to keep God happy; it was not about 'per­forming,' but about creating a space within which we can encounter the love of God. Frank would readily concede that while this encounter can happen in the spiritual duties he did so faithfully all his life, he also saw that these daily rituals do not nec­essarily lead to a deepening of the primary relationship to which they point.

Whatever we call prayer-praise, reverence, doxology, wor­ship, communing, thanksgiving, confession, conversation with a friend, supplication, awe, intercession, wonder, listening, meditat­ing, contemplating, or many other things besides-it is in every case an encounter with God we seek in prayer is to encounter the presence of a loving God. Once we stop acting for God, putting on a show, and instead seek God's presence in prayer, then all sorts of possibilities open up. Prayer also provides the place wherein God can find us. God's creativity and desire for our good know no bounds.

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27 January 2021

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Richard Leonard sj

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