A Conversation with God
The religious leaders who hated Jesus tried to trick him with a question. "Teacher," they asked Jesus in public, "should we pay taxes to the Roman king or not?"
Jesus knew they were liars. So he answered, "Give to the Roman king what belongs to him. But give God everything that belongs to him!"
Based on Matthew 22:17, 21
God created us. He wants us to live with him forever. And he is our friend. So, what do we owe God? Don't we need to talk and listen to him to find out what he wants? We call this conversation with God "prayer."
There are many reasons to pray. We can pray to God for things we want or need. We can pray to God for others. We can thank God for things he has given us. We can praise God just because he is God. And we can worship God for creating us and sending his Son to save us.
But why do we pray? To listen for God's will and to tell him what's in our hearts. But, there is a deeper reason. We pray in different ways because Holy Spirit is calling us to pray. The Spirit reminds us what Jesus taught us about prayer. And he leads us to pray for ourselves and others.
The Right (And Wrong) Ways to Pray
James and his brother, John, came up to Jesus and said. "Teacher, do us a favor."
"What is it?" Jesus replied.
"When you become king, let us sit next to you," they answered.
"You really don't know what your asking for," Jesus said. "Are you willing to suffer the way I will?"
"Yes!" they eagerly replied.
"Well, you will suffer," Jesus told them. "But I am not going to tell anyone they can sit next to me in the Kingdom. Only God knows who will sit in those seats!"
Based on Mark 10:35-40
There are right ways and wrong ways to pray. The story about James and John gives us an example. It shows us who to pray to, ways to prayer, and attitudes in prayer.
When we pray, we should pray to the Trinity: the Father, the Son (like James and John), and the Holy Spirit. We pray to God the Father as our creator. We pray to Jesus, God's Son, as our Savior and as our mediator with God the Father. In fact, every pray we make to God the Father should be said in the name of Jesus. And, we pray to the Holy Spirit as a helper and guide throughout our lives.
We should not wait until we need a favor from God to pray (like James and John). We can pray anytime, anywhere, with anyone. But we should make prayer a habit. To do this, try to pray at a certain time and place, with certain people each day. For instance, pray with your family at meal time or just before you go to bed. Go to Mass on Sunday and special days during the year. Rely on your parents and others (like the parish priest or deacon) to help you to pray. Share prayers with others, pray by reading and thinking about stories in the Bible, pray alone by listening to God speaking to your heart. Just don't wait to pray. Pray daily.
Even when we pray daily, sometimes it is hard. We fight against ourselves and the distractions around us. Our prayer can be selfish; God doesn't answer our prayer the way we want him to. Our prayers can seem empty, like a waste of time. We can even feel our prayers have failed. At these times, Jesus tells us to persevere.
Using a parable, Jesus told his followers they needed to always pray and to never give up:
Once, in a city, there was a judge who didn't care about God or people. A widow in that city kept coming to the judge with a complaint. "Protect me from my enemy!" the woman said over and over.
For a while, he refused her. But, in the end, he thought, "I don't care about God or people. But, this widow keeps bothering me. So, I will protect her, or she will come again and again until she wears me out!"
Listen to what the judge said! Won't God protect his followers who keep praying to him day and night? Will he delay? No! I tell you he will protect them quickly.
Based on Luke 18:1-8a