From PRAYER to PRAYING to PRAY-ER

Sometimes, I choose things which are dictated by my own will in order to seek convenience.  In prayer, I tend to ask God for something achievable and attainable, but I blame Him easily when something goes wrong and things are not in accordance to what I expect.  However, I started to realize that God may have a greater purpose why He does not grant my petitions immediately.  In addition, He may also want me to learn that prayer is not an “I-oriented” or an ego-centric thing, but a Self-Opening to God.  Part of our existence that we know we are bestowed by free will and at the same time having a spiritual understanding about ourselves we are created in the image and likeness of God.  We can choose what we want to do, but are we happy that we only decide only for our own?  We may have relied on our own capabilities and talents, but did we realize that God bestowed all of them for us?  We always tend to say that we have the freedom to express and to choose what we want to be, but are we aware of the limits behind the freedom that is “freely given” to us?  I realized that as I rely on my capability alone was not enough achieve the happiness that I am seeking for.  I still need the help of God which is the source of my identity, of my freedom and of my life.  I realized that I cannot do things without God because doing things alone does not suffice the reason for authentic happiness.  Without Him, it is impossible to overcome the obstacles in life because I, myself, have my limits, shortcomings and failures.  I still need to let God work into my life through surrendering my will to His will.

Sometimes, I also let my emotions control my decisions, so that it was not really God whom I am experiencing.  But later on, I realized that the more I let my emotions to control my decisions, the more obstacles come in.  Letting my self to be subdued by my emotions and with my own preferences in my life came into a disappointing fact, i.e. I became self-centered.  Also, when trial and failures comes, I tend to blame God.  Also, I became pessimistic about God which tends me to take for granted the His graces and opportunities that He really provides.  It came into a point that I don’t want anymore to pray and to listen to Him, but because of this, I became lonelier, sad and bitter.  I paid my own price.

Through those difficulties that I experienced, it led me to ask this question in my own self, what is the point of praying when I am self-sufficient?  Sometimes, I cannot deny the fact that my disposition in prayer is mere bubbling of words and self-centeredness.  But I realized later that I need the help of God through prayer which is not simply mere bubbling of words, self-centeredness and lip-service.  In the light of Opening to God, Chapter Two, written by the late Fr. Thomas Green, SJ, prayer is not to be used, but to be lived.  When we live our prayers, we let God do the rest while we do our best.  God will surely give the graces that we need if we start Opening ourselves to Him.  In the end, I realized that prayer does not depend on the length or its rhetoric.  It depends on how I act it diligently and sincerely.  I realized that I must feel and live the presence of God in my life and not to take it for granted.  He knows more well what life wants me to be though sometimes I am struggling to understand His will.  But only through sincere prayers that I am able to start cooperating in His will which little by little grants me the grace of understanding His will.  This is a manifestation that God really loves me.  No matter how stubborn I am, He still finds a way to express His love for me.  Starting finding an ample time of staying with Him and Opening to Him was the hardest thing that I did knowing before that I am self-centered.  Only to find out that after trying my best to open up everything to Him, I found the relief.  It was one of my humbling experiences that I cherished most for it tells me about how God is so lovable to his creatures.  See, what prayers could do which is not simply mere bubbling of words, length, rhetoric or self-centeredness.  But, it is more on LIVING, LISTENING and OPENING TO GOD.  Try it!  Hope may YOU find GOD in YOUR PRAYER.

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If Only

If only I will be going back to my four-years experience as a seminarian, the most significant situation where I genuinely open my heart and mind to discern God’s will was when I became so much overwhelmed with my doubts, confusion, anxieties, mistakes and dilemmas in my seminary life.  On that time, I thought I could be able to overcome it all with my own strenght and will.  I rely on my own pride.  I rely on my own foolishness.  I thought , in relying on my own strenght and will, everything will be fine.  It was a misconception.  I thought I could able to make it without the help of my companions and the advices of my formators.  It was an irrational thing.  I fooled myself.

When everything seems not so finr and I became so much overwhelmed with my doubts, confusions, anxieties, mistakes and dilemmas in my seminary life, I started to seek God and open my heart and mind to discern His will.  When I started to become open to Him, I realized that I became so much absorbed with my own self-righteousness and pride which hindered me to be connected with the people whom could able to help me to solve the struggles that I have in my seminary life.

 Then, after realizing my own fault, I was ashamed with myself.  Suddenly, I started to bend my knees, kneel, pray and talk to Him.  I burst all the pains, discouragements and disappointments that I have to Him.  I ask for His forgiveness and mercy.  After that, I started to sob and cry.  Since then I relied with the graces of strenght and will from God in order to overcome my doubts, confusions, anxieties, mistakes anddilemmas in my seminary life, I always thought that “Boys don’t cry,” but when I started to genuinely open my heart and mind to God’s will, I have realized that in life I must cry because crying is not fearfulness but toughness, is not a feeling of defeat but a feeling of success, is not disgrace      , but honour.  I’ve realized also that I must accept the fact that my own strenght and will wouldn’t be enough to overcome my doubts, confusions, anxieties, mistakes and dilemmas in my seminary life compare to God’s strenght and will.  I must still depend on Him to overcome my struggles in life.  I must still need to cooperate and coordinate with His strenght and will.

 In genuinely opening my heart and mind to discern God’s will, I realized that there are no shortcuts to overcome my struggles in my seminary life.  I thought relying on my own strength and my will would be adequate enough to settle all the struggles that I have in my seminary life.  Still, I need to be dependent on God’s will.  I realized also that discernment is not depends on my own capability and ability to discern what is the plan of God for me.  It still depends on God’s will and it could be concieved by allowing it to penetrate into my heart, my mind and my soul.

Discernment is part of my prayer and applying what I have learned.  The more I persevere to pray to God with love, the more I become genuinely open to discern God’s will.  The more I burst the pains, disappointments and discouragements within me to Him, the more become open to the fact that I am limited, I am human and I am weak, but capable to change, to persevere and to depend on God’s will and grace.

When I started to genuinely open to discern God’s will, I became at ease with myself in peace, I became open with my spiritual director and I became at home with myself.  God allows doubts, confusions, anxieties, mistakes and dilemmas to overwhelm in my seminary life in order to open my heart and mind for conversion.  He made me to realize the importance of inner peace of one’s heart and mind.  In peace, he speaks and listens into our pleas.  I really appreciated the importance of peace into my life because in peace, He speaks into my being.  I feel His guidance which leads me to think twice into my decisions in life.  He listens into my pleas and sorrows.

 With the help of the experience that I have experienced going back to my four-years experience being a seminarian I was able to recognized and realized the importance of opening my heart and mind to discern God’s will.  Once a heart and mind is being thought to be open in order to discern God’s will, God truly speaks and works on it in order for it to grow and mature with a steadfast spirit.