With Ash Wednesday, we began the liturgical season of Lent. We know that during this time, we are asked to dedicate time to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Because of the recent school shootings and the call for prayer, I am taking this time to address prayer and its place in our lives. If you are a face book user and even if not, you will find that there is criticism of praying for the deceased and their families because without action, the prayers seem to be without effect.
Perhaps a closer look at prayer might be of value. Prayer is conversation with God. We talk, but hopefully we take more time to listen. Without silence, prayer is simply a way to fill time with many words. I have enjoyed the book by Murray Bodo, O.F. M., Song of the Sparrow. He shares this thought about prayer. “Prayer must initiate or continue some action in our lives or it degenerates into a security blanket of some kind that seems to justify our doing nothing but praying.” He maintains that “prayer and action go together and we can’t have one without the other.”
Regarding Lent, when we pray, we are engaging in one of the three elements of this liturgical season. Prayer can lead us to action in terms of fasting and almsgiving. A simple way to understand this is that often we pray for the health of someone but after our prayer, a get-well card or a visit, or phone call can be the action taken that connects our prayer to action. Given all of this, however, we do not want to dismiss the power of the love and mercy of our God and God’s involvement in the lives of all of us.
~by Helen Ackermann