Jesus prayed. In a casual reading of the Gospels, we might not notice what a startling statement that is. Jesus, who is God made man, prayed. Why would Jesus pray?
When we pray, we often do so cerebrally with an emphasis on asking for practical helps. I know my prayer list includes not only my own needs, but a revolving roster of loved ones suffering from cancer, addictions, or spiritual crises. There are so many people who need Our Lord’s intervention in their lives! This kind of prayer is good. Jesus Himself gave us the Lord’s Prayer, in which we ask God for our daily bread. St. Paul often instructed the Churches to intercede for others.
But it is likely that when Christ prayed, his method was akin to St. Therese of Lisieux’s, “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
Recently, as I reflected on my desire to learn to pray the way that Jesus prayed, I found myself thinking about babies. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that my first three grandchildren were all born within the past year or so–I certainly have babies on the brain!
When a mother is holding her baby, others may approach and ask to “hold the baby.” The little one will allow himself to leave his mother’s arms, and, for a time, the friend or relative may engage the baby with smiles, games, or songs. But inevitably, the infant or toddler will notice mommy (or daddy) nearby and will cry or reach longingly toward his parent, ready to reconnect with the safety, love, and familiarity babies crave.
The behavior of babies serves as a poignant analogy for the kind of intimate prayer that we have access to, in imitation of Christ. Imagine a perpetual readiness to turn from the world, which necessarily commands our attention much of the time. We catch a glimpse of our Heavenly Father, and we reach out to Him. Immediately—perhaps with a chuckle or a compassionate croon of love—He lifts us from the arms of the world and draws us to Himself. In prayer, we snuggle down into His goodness…warm, safe, home. Here we are fortified to “embrace both trail and joy.”
We are continuously invited to deepen our relationship with God. He wants us to know that He is our protector, our nurturer, the One who loves us. When we give Him permission to be center of our universe, as a parent is to a child, then and only then will all be well with us. How awe-inspiring it is to think that we can imitate Jesus’ filial approach to the Father and in some small way, taste the unending joy and intimacy found within the life of the Blessed Trinity.
…I have stilled my soul.
Like a child at rest on its mother’s knee,
I have stilled my soul within me.
-John Michael Talbot, Psalm 131 (Come to the Quiet)
Image courtesy of Unsplash.