The desire of your heart is far more important than the words you speak in prayer. If you say all the right words, but in your heart only hold selfish desires, then your prayer is for nothing. But if you cannot think of a single word to say, but in your heart desire God’s presence and authority in your life, then your prayer will resound in heaven. Do not set your heart on what you desire from God, but set your heart on God alone.
What does it mean to desire the Name of God?
To the ancient Hebrews, a person’s name was not just something to call someone, it embodied the essence of the person. We see this clearly when individuals experienced life changing events that resulted in the change of their name. Abram receives God’s promise and becomes Abraham. Jacob comes face to face with God and becomes Israel. Simon becomes Peter. Saul becomes Paul. Of course, God never changes but, like a multi-faceted jewel requires many names to describe the essence of his person. In the Bible, God’s name is given as Healer, Deliverer, Comforter, and Victor, to offer a few. In my book I list approximately 200 Biblical names or descriptors of God, and I do not claim the list is comprehensive. It is a great spiritual exercise to reflect on the names of God, and by them to explore God’s essence. When praying the Our Father, and you say, “Hallowed by thy Name,” meditate on 1 or 2. And then, ask yourself the question, “What does it mean to desire the Name of God?” Personally, I see a twofold answer. First, we desire God to be active in our lives. We desire God to be our healer, our deliverer, our comforter and our victor. Secondly, we are called to be the agents of Christ in the world. Therefore, in our daily interactions our words and deeds should bring healing, deliverance, comfort, and victory into the lives of those we interact with. For Christ is not only the one who saves us, he is the one who transforms us. In truth, they are both the same thing.
There is a moment in everyone’s life when we become aware of a Divine presence. For most of us that experience occurs in the pre-teen to early teen years. Organized religion recognizes that fact and tends to schedule some of their most important spiritual events around that time. Be it the Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah in the Jewish tradition, confirmation in liturgical traditions, or baptism in the evangelical traditions, there is a recognition that something special is happening spiritually around that time. Then we grow up, get drivers’ licenses, become independent, and go to college. Then we relegate the awareness of spiritual reality to a childhood experience somewhat less important than the game in which we made the winning score or our first kiss.
Daily stressors such as jobs and finances, as well as the distractions of always-available entertainment draw us farther and farther away from the quiet presence of God in our lives. But even now, you can close your eyes in this solitary moment, take a deep breath, and wrestle your focus away from the issues that dominate your thoughts. Look deeply inward. You can realize the abiding presence of God in the center of your being, and know the peace he brings into the stillness of your mind.
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta
There are three skills that, once learned, change everything. The first is learning to walk. The second is learning to read. The third is learning to pray.
Most of us learned to recite prayers as children. We also learned to walk and read as children. As we grow older, we learn to refine our basic childhood skills so they serve us better as adults.
When I was a child I had a Sunday school understanding of God. I saw God as a kind- and loving Supreme Being who was watching over me and caring for me. That concept worked fine when I was young, but as I grew older and faced increasing complexities in life, there seemed to be a lot of unanswerable questions. Many are able to live faith-filled lives with those questions unanswered. Increasingly, our culture is slipping into agnosticism and atheism as Sunday school answers no longer satisfy our modern understanding of the universe. I am personally of the conviction that if we are going to take the light of Christianity into the next generation, we are going to need to update how we talk about God and how we understand his relationship with his creation.
Once, as I was visiting an exhibit of photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope, I was fascinated by a frame of a thousand stars of different hues and shapes. As I read the caption, I learned that these were not stars, but galaxies. The photo represented a small, dark portion of the night sky described as “about the size of a postage stamp” that allowed the Hubble Space Telescope to peer into space beyond our own galaxy. It was called the Deep Field. As I looked into the photo and allowed its impact to wash over me, I said to myself, “Ed, your God is too small.”
I believe in God – not in a Catholic God; there is no Catholic God. There is God, and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the Light and the Creator. This is my Being. ~ Pope Francis