So I’m wondering in today’s Lent Devotional for Women, am I a “prayer wimp?” What’s a “prayer wimp” you ask. To me, I envision someone (me) who prays a fervent, heartfelt “Oh pleeeaassee God…” only to give up when I don’t feel immediate peace or see an immediate answer. And by give up, I mean either completely forget that very “heartfelt” prayer or pray it haphazardly and negligently when it occasionally comes to mind.
And yet still, because God is a most loving and merciful Father, He answers those wimpy prayers of mine! I’m even counting the answers that don’t look the way I wanted them to look but were answered according to His wisdom, not mine.
In our Lent Devotional for Women today, let’s look at what prayer and love should have in common and why neither are for wimps; I’ll give you a hint, it’s not lethargy and incompleteness. Because do you know a couple of qualities of real love? Persistence and completeness. Meaning, if we love only until…it’s not real love.
Matthew 15:21-28 shares the story of the woman crying out to Jesus to have mercy on her daughter. And nobody answers her. But the disciples do go and “tell” on her. They want Jesus to send her away. But she keeps crying out. And then she even approaches our Lord, “adores him” and keeps on crying for mercy. This lady will not give up! She is the epitome of persistent and what happens? Jesus recognizes her persistence as faith!
I don’t know about you, but my prayers can start out with a bang! I mean I’m praying at set times, I’m praying the Scriptures, I’m praying on my face at the crack of dawn–you get the picture, and I’ve got the candle and t-shirt to prove it. And then…
Well, if the answer doesn’t come fairly soon, I start to miss a time or five, toss up a half-hearted petition as I’m doing fifteen other things in the middle of the day, or night. And not to sound like a toddler or a teenager or anything, but it’s not all my fault.
St. Teresa of Avila has said, the devil does all he can to get souls away from faithfulness to prayer, using every possible or imaginable excuse: “It’s pointless, you’re not worthy enough to pray, you’re wasting your time, you’ll pray better if you put it off till tomorrow when you’re not so tired or when you have a perfectly indexed prayer journal, there’s this urgent thing you really must do now, what will people think of you, etc.” St. Teresa says it’s natural for the devil to put up a stiff fight on this point, for someone faithful to prayer is quite certainly lost to him.
Remember how in yesterday’s Lent Devotional for Women we read that quote from Charles Hugo Doyle about God making heroes out of us? I don’t just want to be a prayer warrior, I want to be a prayer hero. I want to be like the Canaanite woman who persisted in her pleas to God and who was recognized as a woman of faith!
I looked up the definition for hero, “a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character.” Ladies, it takes courage to persist in prayer. It takes character to go time and again and say to our Lord, “Please…I’m sorry…Thank You.”
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Jesus tells us in the scriptures we ask but don’t receive because we ask wrongly. We have no faith in our asking. If we did, we wouldn’t give up and we wouldn’t lose our hope.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Have we asked God this Lent to help us love more and better? Did we ask on the first day? The second? The eighth? Is this “love more” thing getting harder? Have we prayed about it and for it? Did we pray with courage, character, persistence, and hope? If the answer is “no,” then do it now. If the answer is “Yes,” then keep doing it.
“Another form of imperfection is found in a certain lack of completeness in an act which is substantially good, but which is done, for example, with some reluctance, or without putting into it all the goodwill and fervor of spirit of which we are capable.” (Divine Intimacy)
And like I mentioned in the beginning, real love is persistent and complete. If we walk away from prayers we feel aren’t being heard or left unanswered, we are leaving incomplete prayers on the table (so to speak). Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean we should spend all our time praying for all the things, even our 12-year-old little girl prayers we left behind, seemingly unanswered.
What I’m suggesting is to ask, to pray with courage and hope, all the goodwill and fervor we are capable of. And then thank God for His providential care and for answering our prayers–the answers we know and feel and see, but maybe more importantly, the answers we don’t know, don’t feel, don’t see and may never in this life.
Please and thank you.
Today, I’m not going to pray to love more or better. Today I’m going to pray for the virtues of persistence and completeness in all I do, especially in loving God more and better.