Many people view prayer as a way to get something for very little effort. But prayer is just so much more than that. Since I’ve moved to Iowa, I’ve left my comfort of being able to go to Eucharistic Adoration on a whim. For those that are not familiar with the practice of Eucharistic Adoration, simply, it is the practice of placing a consecrated Eucharistic Host on display so that it may be venerated since it is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Just as Catholics believe that Jesus is truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist during mass, this is another host that has been consecrated during mass for the purpose of Adoration.
In Northern Minnesota I was able to frequent Adoration whenever I wanted to be in the presence of Christ. Once I moved here, the parish I attend is quite small and it wouldn’t be viable to have Adoration all through the night, but we do have it for an hour a week. The turnout isn’t the greatest but there are many people who come just to have a small bit of time before Jesus in the still of their hearts.
I admit, there are times I do not want to be at church after I’ve worked a long day in the office, on a Friday, but there are many times I don’t want to be there that I need to be there. This brings me back to what I said at the beginning of my post, many people see prayer as a way to get something with very little effort. My response to that is, get over it, God is not a vending machine.
Mathew 7: 7 – 11 says this,
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”
This quote is often misquoted frequently as a way to say prayer is a hoax. The attitude I hear most often is that, “If I ask God for something, I should get it.” While it is true that the “wicked” (also read as sinners) know how to give good gifts to their children, why wouldn’t God give us something bigger and better?
We live in a world of instant gratification. When I want something I get it now. Here’s the thing a lot of us forget, we are sinners, we don’t always know what’s best for us. So in our prayer lives when we ask for something that is harmful to ourselves, do you think God is just going to hand it over to us? I think not.
Prayer in essence is the uniting of our Free Will to that of God. Sounds easy? In my experience it’s actually quite hard. There are four categories that all prayer can be placed into. ACTS is an easy way to remember it.
A – Adoration – These are prayers that directly worship God.
C – Contrition – These prayers are those that show sorrow and repentance for sins.
T – Thanksgiving – This one is pretty self explanatory, these prayers thank God.
S – Supplication – These are prayers that ask for the needs of others and ourselves.
Whether our prayers are spontaneous or formal, they fall in one of these four categories.
Personally when I remember the four different forms of prayer, I try to ask myself, have I adored God today? Have I realized when I have sinned and repented of them? Have I thanked God? What can I bring forward to God for my family, friends and then finally for myself. I find it’s a dose of much needed humility. Think about it, pray about it, and stop looking to God as a genie or vending machine.