I think a lot about my goals in life, and most of what I come up with are pretty simple (or at least they sound simple on paper): I want to be a good (no, great) wife and mother. I want to maintain a beautiful and cozy home and serve my family with love, patience, and kindness. I want to be a good friend and daughter. I want to serve my church and somehow use my gifts to bring people closer to God. I want to use the gifts that I have been given in my education to share the greatness of our Lord, and to inspire people to have faith. I want to be good. I want to be holy.
If you know me well, you probably know that I am far from the holiness that we find in the Saints we love and the people we revere as blessed. I have a mouth on me that just runs willy nilly, I am extremely sensitive (which stems from my pride—I hate to feel stupid, and I have an extreme sensitivity when people challenge my faults), I think too much about how I present myself, I am impatient, needy, sometimes obsessive, I watch too much t.v. (the plethora of pop culture facts which reside within my head is nothing short of ridiculous)…the list goes on and on. But I realize, within this mess that is me is the calling from God to be great nonetheless. I take great comfort in the fact that God calls the weak of heart. He calls those who are messy, and who need work (i.e. Jacob the liar and thief, Moses the murderer, David the fornicator, Peter the unsure one, etc.). I get excited that I could be, that I am among this list, simply because I am a child of God. None of us are perfect, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be working towards fulfilling the best possible versions of ourselves (through the grace of God, of course).
I’ve been thinking a lot about what is lacking in this journey to holiness for myself, and I recognize easily and clearly my weakness in this calling. I know deep inside that in order to obtain this holiness that I am striving towards, I need to know God and love God more than I know and love anything else in this world. I need to see him—to recognize that He is “the Absolute Reality, Infinite Perfection, more massively real than the universe itself and more worthy than all the ideals together ever conceived by all human minds.” (Peter Kreeft) In the consistence of calling my mind to this, I may realize that there is nothing, nothing, more important than Him. He needs to be first—not just as an idea—but He really and truly needs to be placed as my number one priority above all things. Just as I need to foster love and communication within my relationships here on earth, I need to do the same (more urgently) with my relationship with God.
How does one put God first, most properly? Through prayer.
Peter Kreeft, in “Prayer for Beginners” (which I highly recommend) beautifully says the following about prayer:
“Praying keeps your soul alive because prayer is real contact with God, and God is the life of the soul and the soul is the life of the body…prayer gives truth to our mind (because it puts us in the presence of Truth itself), goodness to our will (because it puts us “on line” with God, in love with the God who is love and goodness itself), and beauty to our heart (because it plunges us into the heart of God, which is the eternal energy of infinite joy).”
I think it is clear enough that everybody everywhere is seeking these things in one form or another. Everybody desires goodness. Everybody is seeking the beautiful in life. Everyone is on the pursuit of happiness.
Still, there is so much anger and hurt in our world, and where people do succeed in finding happiness, if it is apart from God, it is fleeting. We are all made for something more, something divine—we are all “restless, until we rest in God.” (St. Augustine)
Prayer moves us towards God, because prayer is the response in love to God’s calling. Prayer is love, because it “seeks out God’s presence, to seek intimacy and union with” the God who made us and loves us. We can find no greater happiness than that which we find in our God, and we draw near to him through prayer.
Because I am going to start making some changes for the better in my own prayer life, I thought it might be a great thing to share those steps that I find helpful, my thoughts on prayer, and those things that I find inspiring (like Peter Kreeft’s book) with you all that read my blog. I am going to share these through a series of entries called “Refined by Prayer.” I hope to start soon, and I hope that if you have struggled or are struggling with prayer, you might feel God’s call and begin strengthening your relationship with him through prayer today.
God Bless and thanks for reading!