Prayer - encounter with God
Many people think this is an empty phrase and believe that suggesting such an encounter with God is absurd. How are you supposed to build a relationship with someone you can't see, hear or experience, how can you ever meet him?
Yes, it is possible because God wants to be found. He loves us and will never turn away from us if we seek him.
Whether we are able to meet God, however, depends on us. We must want to find God. Not incidentally, occasionally, when it is easy... No. We must want to find God, with every fibre of our being.
If we pray simply out of habit, treating prayer as a mere fulfilment of duty, reciting prayers like poems or praying a little now and then to ease our guilty conscience, we will not be able to encounter God. Our prayers will not have been in vain. But our great God, who sacrificed his Son for the sake of our redemption, wants our heart. He does not want to be an occasion for acts of tradition. He does not want to be a stopgap where we find a little time for him between our various everyday interests. God does not allow himself to be manipulated and abused by us for our own interests. As our Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, He wants to be the centre of our lives and He wants us to fulfil His will, not the other way round. To realise this, it is important to get in touch with God through prayer.
The "Our Father“
When talking about prayer, we must not overlook the prayer that Jesus himself taught us. It is our central prayer, and yet in its brevity Jesus has given us a wealth of truths about the faith. (see: link to: "Prayers"). We should pray it consciously over and over again.
"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen".
This is a form of prayer in the Catholic Church in which one walks the path to God together with Mary, the mother of Jesus. For some, this is a form of prayer that leads directly to the heart of our faith. For others, this prayer seems to be an incomprehensible diversion via Mary. After all, don‘t we want to go directly to Jesus. Indeed why should we turn to Mary?
The following can be said about this:
It is true, God is the goal of our lives, nothing should stop us from seeking Him and directing our lives towards Him. But if ways exist that can help us to find the path to God and to walk it unswervingly, we should surely make use of these opportunities.
Let us think about it: when we have problems, we are always grateful when people agree to pray for us and our requests. God can and will respond to these petitions if they serve the fulfilment of his holy will. If we have recognised the value of such intercession by our fellow human beings, then we can guess what value Mary‘s intercession before God might have. She, as the mother of Jesus, is allowed to be as close to God as no other human being. She can therefore ask God for what we need. This also applies to things and situations whose significance in our lives we are not even aware of and for which we therefore cannot ask and pray. However, Mary as a mother knows what is needed in our lives. At her request, God will then bring about those things that he considers right and important for our lives.
Mary's explicit goal is to lead those people who entrust themselves to her along the most direct route to her Son Jesus. She knows the shortest way. We know the dangers of walking alone on an unknown path. How often in our lives have there been situations where we had no idea what the next step should be. How often have people reported from painful experience what detours in their faith journey they had to take before they could find their goal in God. Those who entrust themselves to Mary do not take a diversion via Mary to God, but instead take a direct path to God together with Mary. This makes an incredible difference.
When we pray the Rosary, we give God our time. Prayer involves consciously giving up something else during this time, perhaps reading the newspaper, watching TV or some other activity. It is our conscious turning to God, at the same time strengthening and deepening our relationship with him.
But it is also easy to let this prayer flow casually into everyday life. Just as we can stay in conversation with a friend even when we are doing other activities, we can also talk to God during activities that do not fully occupy our attention. Many people pray the rosary, for example, while walking, jogging, cycling, riding in a car as a passenger, in the waiting room at the doctor's office... We can dedicate our prayers to concerns that are known to us - our own problems as well as problems in our circle of relatives and friends - or we can simply make these prayers available to Mary. She knows enough concerns that she wants to bring before God. We are forgetful and have human limitations that prevent us from consistently accompanying other people in prayer. Mary does not have these limitations and is able to bring the intentions we entrust to her before God even when we are no longer able to do so.
Through the Rosary we can also enter into a "listening prayer". In the rosary, there are always reflections on Jesus that are inserted into the prayer. If we are inwardly open and take time to pray, we will experience that God gives us quite surprising insights about our lives or the lives of other people through these reflections. These insights can, for example, lead to further prayer or perhaps to concrete action. If we do not simply push such things aside, but accept them as an inner prompting and act accordingly, we will often be surprised to witness God's work. God needs prayerful people who open themselves to him and through whom he can then work.
Anyone who would like to find out more about praying the rosary can do so in the "Prayers" section.
This form of prayer has grown in the tradition of the Catholic Church. What is important is not that we strictly adhere to any rules, but rather that we search for a personal approach to God. We may then walk this path together with Mary.