Lisa Simmons ponders the ways we approach prayer of petition and thanksgiving. The two are more connected than we think.
I was writing about prayer the other day and decided to look up what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about prayer. I was slightly chagrined to read the following:
In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? Or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? (CCC 2735)
I tell the Lord thank you all the time, but I know I just do a cursory, "Hey thanks, Lord for that extra check, or watching out for me in traffic." I know I have hardly ever repeated myself in thanks like I do in petition. So this line from the Catechism really struck a blow to my heart. "Dear Lord, I am so sorry I have never thanked you like I do some people." I practically gush "thank you" to family and friends when they do something for me. Have I ever gushed before the Almighty? Why haven't I?
Why do I take for granted the fact that I woke up this morning and breathed, or that my family loves me and I am blessed having them? Why haven't I thanked God for putting me in this job, given me a voice to sing or a successful knee surgery so I am walking better again? Before I start to sink out of embarrassment, I have to remind myself that I know God knows everything and He knows I am grateful, but the Catechism tells us we should spend just as much time thanking God as we do asking Him for answers. He already knows what we need; He also knows we are thankful. But that doesn't stop us from constantly begging, does it? Yet, it is good that we ask Him for things because the next line in the Catechism was this:
Are we convinced that "we do not know how to pray as we ought?" Are we asking God for "what is good for us?" Our Father knows what we need before we ask him. But he awaits our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their freedom. We must pray then with his Spirit of freedom to be able truly to know what he wants.
So while I worry about how much I ask God for, I also am relieved to find out that He WANTS us to do is to ask for His help, because He cannot help us without our saying yes. Doesn't that sound strange? Yet God made of us to have freedom of choice. Even if we are enslaved by someone or something, we still have a choice to say yes or no to God. Nobody can control or enslave that. Nobody, except us. We choose to ask God for help, or not. We choose to believe God loves us and wants what is best for us, or not. He gave each and every one of us that freedom to choose. Then we must accept what is best and wait for His answer and TRUST that He knows what is best for us.
If that sounds like a hard thing to do, the Bible reminds us that we must come to the Lord as little children. A child may be upset about getting a "no" or "just wait" to their request for something, but in the end they accept what mom or dad says is best.
So don't worry about asking the Lord for help, just remember to also give Him thanks! Like, maybe a couple times or a few thousand! I'm sure our Good Lord never tires of hearing our voice!
Copyright 2021 Lisa Simmons
Image: Pixabay (2014)
About the Author
Lisa Hendrix Simmons is a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, and lover of adventures! She works full time at her Catholic parish as the social media/technology/Family Life Ministry coordinator. She writes about staying young and fun while living Catholic. When not writing she is knitting, playing music with her husband and having fun with her kids and grandkids. Visit her blog at https://youngfunandcatholic.blogspot.com/ and at www.simmonsfamilycenter.com/mommaknitsayarn