No long ago I started reading a small book on prayer by Ronald Rolheiser, entitled “Prayer – Our Deepest Longing.” I was reading in the mall, while waiting for my wife. I read the following quote. It struck me powerfully because it said a lot about my journey in prayer. I want to share it with you and then make a comment. “You must try to pray so that, in your prayer, you open yourself in such a way that sometime – perhaps not today, but sometime – you are able to hear God say to you, ‘I love you!’ These words addressed to you by God, are the most important words you will ever hear because, before you hear them, nothing is ever completely right with you, but after you hear them, something will be right in your life at a very deep level.” I say, “Amen.”
I almost weep as I read these words. Men, don’t give up on your personal prayer time with God. Personal prayer is not a task or a necessary duty, but primarily a relationship with the one who loves you. Your heavenly Father longs for a relationship with you. He longs to share his heart with you. Don’t be afraid. He wants us to come to him in all our shame, vulnerability and insecurity. He wants you to be yourself. He wants you to know that you are loved just as you are, in all your stink. Be honest. Pray and let God know what is really going on in your soul, not what you think God would like to see inside of you.
I want to quote Rolheiser on this point, because I think it will help men in their struggle with making prayer a real experience. “What God is asking is that we bring our helplessness, weaknesses, imperfections, and sin constantly to him, that we talk with him, and that we never hide from him. God is a good parent. He understands that we will make mistakes and disappoint him and ourselves. What God asks is simply that we come home, that we share our lives with him, that we let him help us in those ways in which we are powerless to help ourselves.”
As it says in the earlier quote, at some point on the journey you will hear the voice of God saying “I love you.” Don’t give up. Just keep showing up each day. The day will come when you will know in your heart that you are truly loved by your heavenly Father. Then everything changes. In a lot of ways you are still the same person, with all the same struggles with your imperfections. But one thing has changed. You know you are loved. Men, I can share from my own journey – that changes everything. So again I say. Don’t stop showing up and sharing your heart with God. If you get worried about not doing it right, remember the word of a holy peasant who, when asked to share his secret to deep prayer, said simply, “I just look at God, and I let God look at me.” It’s that simple. Men don’t make it complicated. Stay at the heart level and it will come to you.