- Michael Koziara, '11
There are a lot of naysayers about prayer. It can be hard to believe that all we have to do is “Ask and it will be given to you.” They say that God has never given them what they actually wanted. They say that they've waited long enough and give up. They say that God doesn't care enough about them. They say God is too busy trying to bring peace in the Middle East or save lives in earthquake-stricken Japan. Rightly frustrated by life experiences and emotional roller-coasters, they don't see God granting wishes right and left.
Some say that God doesn't give us more than we can handle, but I was struck recently when someone proposed to me that hat's not true. For by giving us more than we can handle without Him we are forced to turn to Him.
It is not receiving God's help that's the problem. He works through others, He works through ourselves. The paitience part can be challenging, but the most difficult part is the asking – and knowing what to ask for. Think about it for a minute. In the Garden of Gethseneme, Christ asked that “this cup pass him by” but more importantly that His “Father's will be done.” The following day, Christ was able to carry out his the Father's will, and was supported by Simon of Cyrene. Christ left his suffering up to the Father, shouldn't we?
Instead of asking God to eradicate suffering, we should ask Him to help us through it and allow Him to work through it. We ought to ask for His grace, for fortitude and endurance, and for transformational suffering. As a slave, the young St. Patrick turned to God in prayer. His prayers were not answered with freedom for six long years, but St. Patrick later wrote that: “The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed...” St. Patrick's asked for – and received – not an end to suffering but spiritual growth, a greater love for God that ultimately empowered him to convert the Emerald Isle. Similarly, in today's first reading, Esther asked not to be relieved of her struggle, but to be given the strength, fortitude, and grace to reach out to King Ahasuerus. Like St. Patrick, Esther knew what to ask for, and God blessed her request and and granted her success.
We strive to be like Christ, to be like the saints and faith ancestors. One way we can do that is by not just praying, but knowing what to pray for. For then, what we seek “will be given” to us.