The Rev. Duke Tufty, pastor, Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: If God is a deity sitting on a throne, somewhere in the far off reaches of the sky and listening to everyone’s prayers I would be a bit miffed that I didn’t have his undivided attention. I would also wonder why do some people’s prayers get answered and some of mine do not.
Maybe God has an answering machine that records all the prayers and he gets to them when he can. If God is a deity sitting on a throne somewhere in the far off reaches of the sky and listening to everyone’s prayers I just don’t know how on Earth, or perhaps I should say how in “heaven,” he does that.
For a moment let’s suspend the notion that God is a deity on a throne and think of God in a different way. Let’s say God is the life force or the spirit within each of us. Life is consciousness so God is consciousness. We are alive so each of us has consciousness, and the higher realm of this consciousness is our direct link to the wisdom of God which can be accessed through prayer and meditation. Prayers are not answered by giving things or changing things for a person but rather through wise direction to the person. In a prayerful state ask yourself a question and it will be given.
‘Make them holy’
The Rev. Pat Rush, pastor, Visitation Catholic Church: Jesus taught us to pray to “Our Father,” and we come to him through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ role in our lives is not to bring us good weather for our wedding day, a pay raise from our boss, or whatever similar request we might ask for.
No, Jesus’ role is to reconcile us to God and one another, and to make us holy. Therefore, God hears each and all of our specific petitions through the filter of Jesus’ role. In other words, God understands all our different requests through the filter of “this will reconcile them; this will make them holy,” and that is the prayer God hears and the request God always grants.
More than gaining us our exact request, prayer should make us more attuned to God and more spiritual. Whether our petition is specifically granted or not, prayer should mark our interaction with others with greater compassion, charity and willingness to be of service.
It should free us from our self-centered attachments and our selfishness. It should increase our capacity for joy and generosity, even in the midst of difficulties. St. Ignatius of Loyola advised his followers to “Ask for what you want and accept what you receive.” Be quite specific in your request; be completely trusting that God’s response, whatever it is, can make you holy.