How About Praying?

How About Praying?

by Sr. Redempta Twomey SSC           Ireland                          25.02.2024

There is a story told about a holy man who was sitting in by the river, praying. A young man came up to him and said, “I want to find God.” The older man looked at him for a time and asked, “Do you really want to find him?” “Oh, yes, more than anything in the world, I want to find him.” He earnestly answered, sitting down beside him.

The holy man looked into his eyes and then gently putting his hand on the young man’s head, he pushed it under the water. Startled, he struggled desperately to break free but could not. Then, just as it seemed he could hold out no longer, his head was lifted from the water. When he eventually recovered his breath, he turned on the holy man and shouted at him in anger, “Why did you do that? I could have died!”

The holy man looked into his eyes and with great gentleness he answered, “My son, when you want God as much as you wanted air just now., then you will find Him.”

How many of us, I wonder, are like that young man, wanting to find God, yet reluctant to pay the price? Our prayer life must be a wholehearted affair, an absolute commitment, a passionate undertaking. Is it this? Or is it not more often a wishy-washy, lackadaisical happening we indulge in according to mood or felt need?

But if you really want to pray, then you will pray. It is as simple as that. The one essential for prayer is you. God is always here, always present to you, always longing to ‘come and make our abode in you’.

And how do we know if we are really praying, or just indulging in a monologue? Is the test of good prayer good insights, or feeling great, or being able to heal people, or speaking in tongues? Let me tell you another story which gives us the answer to this very important question.

A holy monk in Mount Athos was visited by two of his disciples just two weeks before he died. “Tell us, Father”, said one, “How do we know if our prayer is truly Christian prayer?” “That’s easy,” the holy man replied, “when you love one another.” “But, Father,”, the second disciple came in, “How do we know when our prayer is truly perfect prayer?” “That’s easy,” the holy man answered, “your prayer is truly perfect if you love your enemies”.

First published by MMM in 1986