Pretty much everyone prays, maybe whether they realize it or not. When someone says “Oh My God” or even shortens it to “OMG” isn’t it asking God for whatever assistance is needed at the time of the utterance? Perhaps understanding, or help with something sad, tragic, or unbelievable is being sought.
There are the prayers learned as a child that are still recited this day. When I am having a sleepless night, I go through the prayers we always said while I was growing up. Our family would meet in either my brother’s bedroom or the bedroom shared by my sister and me. Then we would pray the Apostles Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be (Doxology), the Fatima Prayer, and the Prayer to my Guardian Angel. There were others added in as we got older, but this was always the base list as I remember it. To this day, a prayer to my Guardian Angel sneaks its way into my Rosary because it is such a habit to follow the Fatima Prayer with that one. The prayers and their familiarity are so comforting that I am usually sound asleep by the Hail Mary.
Prayer can be as simple as just having a conversation with God. These conversations take on any form as it is the individual’s conversation. When I pray this way, sometimes I am just saying thank you for what I have. Other times I am asking for help or healing for someone I care about. Then there are times I am begging for something – these take on a new tone and I’m sure it’s the same whiny way I begged my Mom for a toy at the store: “Please, please, please can I have it? I’ll be good! I’ll do whatever you ask!! Just pleeeeeease let me have it!! I’ll NEVER ask for anything again!!”
God answers all prayers. Sometimes it’s as obvious as the nose on your face and other times it is the exact opposite of what you asked. When this happens, I see God as the parent who tells His child “no” because whatever they were asking for would only hurt them. Admittedly, like a child, I sometimes want to stomp my feet and pout because I did not get my way. The worst is when it feels like God does not hear my prayers at all. It is like they are floating out there and have fallen on empty ears. Dealing with the feelings of being ignored and unheard can be very difficult.
I was in a study at St. Mary’s listening to Jeff Cavins speak (via DVD). This was the Great Adventure Bible Study and we were talking about Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac based on nothing but pure, true faith. Mr. Cavins talked about how he would call his life struggles his “Isaacs” and would offer them to God with pure true faith that God would take care of him. This concept really opened my eyes and I began to offer my “Isaacs” to God. Sometimes I would offer them, then end up taking them back, only to offer them again. It’s quite a process to trust God so completely. It’s also quite freeing. Since that time (this was several years ago) I have put many, many things on Abraham’s altar offering them to God. I have often said that all my children are named Isaac. My husband and I were unable to have children. Each time this started bothering me worse than normal, I would give that child, Isaac, to God with the full trust that there is a reason and He has heard my prayers.
So, God answers prayers. He just may not answer them in the way we want. We may not know why our prayer was answered in the way it was until we are in Heaven and can see for ourselves. He will answer some with very obvious answers. When these happen, celebrate the answer, thank God and relish being the child of such an indulgent parent!!