The Heart of Prayer

June 12, 2021
Archdiocese of Baltimore
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

Ian Nelson, Pre-Theology II, Saint John Paul II Seminary           Coming to the end of a long day at the end of a busy week at the close of my first year of seminary, I realize that I haven’t spent any time in prayer. I just got home earlier that evening, and, feeling exhausted and getting over a mild cold, I mostly just want to sleep. It would be easy to convince myself that I’m too tired,  wouldn’t be able to focus, and would have nothing worthwhile to offer the Lord. While these temptations against prayer may contain more than a grain of truth, they also blind us to the true nature of prayer and our relationship with God. God desires that we spend time with Him in prayer, not because of anything we can give Him, but simply because He loves us and longs for us to love Him in the same way. Choosing to pray amid temptations means focusing on God, which allows us to see everything more clearly. Bringing these very temptations to Him in prayer, I said to the Lord: “I know that I am sick and tired and empty. I can hardly think and may just fall asleep while I am trying to pray. It feels like I have nothing to offer You.” And He responded: “I know you are sick and tired and have nothing to offer. But My love is not for what you can give Me or the prayers you compose. By spending this time with Me, you have offered Me the one thing I desire from you. My love is simply for you, My child whom I have created in My image.”
If we focus only on our weaknesses and imperfections, we can easily find ourselves tempted either to despair or to strive to overcome these flaws by our own power. Both of these paths draw our attention to ourselves and separate us from God’s help. But if in these moments we turn to God, humbly acknowledging our frailty and our need for His grace, His grace He will give us, consoling us in time of trial and strengthening us to live out His will. Most importantly, He reveals to us His unending love, setting our hearts on fire with wonder, awe, and gratitude at such an incredible gift. Though I am hardly able to begin to comprehend this divine love that is burning within me, this living flame continues to grow as I feed to it all the fears and anxieties that I lay down at the feet of the Lord, and these are replaced by a peace that the world cannot give and a deep joy that can only come from walking the path that the Lord had called me to follow. As I continue to follow this path this summer during my parish assignment, I hope to share this peace and joy with each person I encounter, helping them to know the incredible love the Lord has for each one of them.

Ian Nelson is in Second Pre-Theology at Saint John Paul II Seminary in Washington, DC. Ian’s home parish is Resurrection in Laurel. Please God, Ian will be ordained to the diaconate in 2026 and to the priesthood 2027. Please pray for Ian!