let’s talk

Mar 2, 2021

I pretty much gave up readings books about prayer a few years ago after I realised that most of what I read seemed to convince me that everyone else was praying better than I was. And if Jesus was the Master Teacher, then I wanted him to teach me directly.

Many of the writings suggested new methods for prayer, all well intentioned, but overall, for me at least, not what I really needed.

I remember praying as a child: in a natural and spontaneous way just chatting with God (we Catholics didn’t talk very intimately about Jesus back then) about the ups and downs of my little life, and many days I prayed confidently for a miracle.

Then as I grew older, and especially when I studied theology, I probably spent more time learning about God and the ways of God and less time just seeking to be with God.

I am a bit older now and realise that I have learnt much more about prayer from parishioners than I have from the many books I’ve read.

I think of visiting families who take time before the children go to bed praying together, an informal prayer in which every member of the family might add a thought, or perhaps a more formal prayer. I am moved even to tears when I recall some of these prayer times.

Parishioners of all ages have taught me of the simplicity, beauty and power of uncluttered prayer from the heart: God, please don’t let the boss fire me. Jesus if someone has to have my teenage son’s cancer then let it be me. Lord I will do anything if my wife gives me another chance.

You know the kind of prayer I mean. Heartfelt. Real. Desperate. You know this kind of prayer because this is the way you pray at times.

These prayers often include a formal prayer, an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and even a Rosary that begins, but after a minute the mind is wandering and I’m clutching the beads for dear life. Of course it’s not just the beads but Jesus that I’m holding as I realise that he is holding me in a healing embrace.

Parishioners have taught me that there are as many ways of praying as there are people who pray, and while books and talks can be helpful, Jesus will teach us directly if we ask.

Without a doubt the well-meaning gospel Scribes, Pharisees, Teachers and Rabbi’s, and even we men-called-Father in today’s gospel provide some good guidance at times, But anyone who knows us can see that we stumble and struggle and fall and fail as much as others.

The Lenten encouragements continue in today’s scriptures:

“Cease to do evil. Learn to do good, search for justice, help the oppressed, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow….Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

And right in the middle of that exhortation comes the gentle invitation that reminds me of the power of my childhood and child-like prayer:

“Come now, let us talk this over, says the Lord.”

That’s what I mean, Jesus teaching me to pray by saying to me, Come here, sit by me and let’s chat about whatever is going on in your life. And if you feel as though you don’t have the strength to hold on to me, don’t worry about that. Just know that I am holding you. You are safe, and I love you.

So, “Come now, let us talk this over, says the Lord.”

An Invitation:

  • Spend some time now and throughout the day, as you work or sit or drive, responding as Jesus says to you: “Come now, let us talk this over.” What is it you sense Jesus might be inviting you to “talk over” with him.
  • With gratitude to the 110 FFF readers who have contributed to the financial support of FFF in the past couple of weeks. Some of you have pledged monthly contributions. Readers and supporters will have thoughts about ways in which FFF can develop. Please email your suggestions to john@fff.org.nz. If you would like to contribute to FFF please visit the SUPPORTING FFF page at this link where you will find bank account information. Tax receipts will be with all who have contributed in the next couple of days.

10 Comments

  1. Thank you John, chatting to Jesus is a lot easier than thinking of all the prescribed prayers and lists I would usually bring!
    Looking forward to our chats through today!

    Reply
  2. Thanks John for simplifying something which can be so removed from our reality. I’ll never forget a homily from Mons Frank who suggested that when we pray, to imagine we were giving Jesus a call.
    “Hello Jesus, it’s Catherine here. Have you got a minute to talk? I just want to ask you something.” etc. It was so helpful to realise that the distance between me and God could be as close as the phone in my hand.

    Reply
  3. It amazes me that it seems in this time of great upheaval sickness and death due to the virus that ravages the world and is causing concern here in NZ currently we bemoan not being able to worship on a Sunday when in a particular alert level. What about as a Church across NZ we simply pray for healing for the sick and protection of us all. A written shared prayer that we could all say daily wouldn’t that help? Wouldn’t it also witness to our belief in the power of prayer and our reliance on God. Better surely that deep theologies simple belief instead. it would also combined us as a faith family as does the eucharist when for safety we can’t come together. if there is such a prayer written please post it for those of us who have missed it.

    Reply
  4. Come on now, let’s talk it over ” stays in my response. Jesus is so close, a friend who I am confide in and speaks my heart with Him. Thank you Fr John for that simplicity and ordinariness of daily relatedness and encounter with Jesus … let’s talk it over .

    Reply
  5. Amen thanks be to you Father John for your teachings Amen

    Reply
  6. This morning, during my lectio divina, I was chatting to Jesus about the people I love and whatever worries I might have about them. I said to Jesus, “I wish my brother could find you,” and Jesus replied, “Don’t worry, I’ve already found him”.

    Reply
    • I so relate to what you have shared, Fr John. When I was little, in the 1950’s my Dad used to take me up to bed. We would always stop for “a prayer on the stair” as he described it! Kneeling on the stairs, we would chat to Jesus and Mary about the day and what our needs and those of others, were. So I was so blessed to have been introduced to simplicity in prayer at such an early age. It is so important to just “be still” with the Lord. I am so grateful.

      Reply
  7. Thank you Father John! I love the simplicity of your message.

    Reply
  8. Wow Emma, I had a very similar experience with a friend of mine, who had died in a Hari Krishna commune. I was praying for him and telling Jesus how he had at various times in his life been looking for him but had never seemed to look in the right place, when this thought came in to my mind saying yes I know, but I have found him. Could that have been Jesus answering me? or just my wishful thinking.

    Reply
  9. SO UPLIFTING
    To read this days,’LETS TALK’
    FFF,Fr John
    THANKYOU.
    In lifes moments I often remember
    When I was pre-school, sitting in the
    Paddock making mud posies,I would pick
    My Favourite tiny blue flower,
    Forget Me Not,look up at the
    HUGE,sky, and it reminds me now,
    GOD DOES NOT FORGET US.

    Reply

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