Long ago, when I was doing my graduate studies in theology, my mentor, Fr. Francis Martin, told me that the primary goal of prayer is to draw close to the Lord. When I asked him why it was so critical to draw near to the Lord, he told me that this is how we become more open to receiving what God wants to give us.
This leads to the next question: Why is it so critical for us to receive what the Lord wants to give to us? Here’s why: we make thousands of decisions every day. Some are good, and others are not so good. We make some decisions with a pure heart and a clear conscience, but sometimes we make decisions that will benefit us at the expense of someone else. Often these kinds of decision are marred by selfishness, pride, or other sinful motives.
When we draw near to the Lord and he draws near to us, his grace affects the way we make decisions. In fact, the more we go to the Lord, the more his grace exerts its influence over every area in our lives. It affects the way we think about money. It affects the way we think about the poor and needy. It affects our relationships by helping us to be more loving and forgiving. It affects the way we spend our time, helping us set our priorities and get our lives in good order.
The Way to Spiritual Maturity. We all have many different compartments in our lives. They should be in some sort of order, but they often work independently of each other. Sometimes they are in conflict with each other. At one moment we might say, “I love you, Jesus,” only to feel anger and resentment toward someone a few minutes later. Or we may say, “I don’t have any extra money to give to the poor,” but then a moment later buy more clothes to add to our already full closet. Or we might tell one friend we are too busy, but then go out with another friend because we really want to be with them.
Spiritual maturity takes a lifetime. It’s a process as we learn to submit every compartment in our lives—financial, relationships, time, work, generosity, and so on—to the Lord. It’s a process that happens as we pursue the Lord and receive his wisdom and grace.
When we pursue God, the doors of heaven open wider. Our pursuit touches God’s heart and moves him to release more of his grace. So in this issue, we want to look at some of the ways we can pursue the Lord: in prayer, in Scripture, and at Mass. We want to focus on method and process—precisely how we can pursue the Lord. I hope that the constructive but simple steps we offer in these articles will inspire you to draw closer to God. I am certain God will reward your efforts by drawing closer to you. I am certain he will help you take the compartments of your life and put them in right order so that you can become more peaceful and loving every day, whether or not things go your way. May God bless all of you.