Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” The Father wants to draw you close to himself. He wants you to be with him forever, beginning today. Allow his promise—that he invites you to be with him forever and will never leave you—to draw you closer to him in prayer today.
Imagine a Newly Married Couple. Everything they do for each other is filled with love, enthusiasm, and joy. Every morning is filled with new promise, and every evening is filled with passion and intimacy. Now, imagine this same couple twenty years and four children later. The long years of raising a family and making ends meet have taken their toll. Now they are tired, and they feel underappreciated—often by their children and sometimes by each other. In their first few years together, they kept no record of all the times they served each other. They quickly glossed over the ways they inadvertently hurt each other. But now they keep track, waiting for the other to match this or that act of service. Deep down, they really love each other, but their relationship has grown cold.
Hear what the Lord says:
“O my children, don’t let your relationship with me grow cold, like this couple. Prayer is not a duty that you must perform day after day, year after year. It is not a tally sheet on which you add up how well you have done. Prayer is the door into a relationship with me. It is nothing without love.”
A Relationship of Love. “Love is everything, my children. Without love, a family’s home is little more than a hotel. Without love, a parish community is scarcely a community at all. And without love, prayer is lifeless and weak. O my children, don’t just pray out of a sense of duty or because it is the right thing to do. Pray with love. Pray with an open heart that pours out your deepest concerns to me!
“Imagine if a husband were to say to his wife, ‘I will talk with you and tell you that I love you only because that’s what I am supposed to do.’ How do you think the wife would feel? So let me ask you: When you come to me, do you have the love and the affection that are the basis of a close relationship? Just as in a marriage, whether or not you feel that love is not the primary issue. Prayer is not meant to be a job, or a duty or responsibility. It is a two-way relationship. When you speak to me, I promise that I will be listening with all of my heart. And when you listen, I promise you will hear my voice speaking to you.
“What kind of relationship do you want to have with me? Do you feel like a dutiful son or daughter, concerned primarily with fulfilling my wishes? It’s true that you are my child, and yet I treasure your love more than your faithful observances. Perhaps you feel like a valuable servant who enjoys and deeply appreciates working for his master. I love the work you do for me, but I don’t want to call you “servant.” I want to call you “friend.” I want you to have the same relationship that I have with my beloved Son, Jesus. I want you to know that you can call me ‘Abba, Father,’ ‘Dad,’ or ‘Papa.’
“Teach Us to Pray!” “My children, if you want to have this kind of relationship with me, I urge you to follow the example of my Son, Jesus. Every day, he made sure to put aside the concerns and burdens of his life to seek my face. He found his strength in me early every morning. He would leave the crowds, and even his own disciples, to spend time with me—sometimes long into the night.
“As Jesus sat in my presence, I spoke to him and gave him the wisdom, strength, and love he needed for that day. He laid bare his heart before me and placed every concern at my feet. Although he was my Son from all eternity, every day he approached me as a human being just like you. He knew joy and suffering, accomplishment and disappointment, friendship and betrayal. But whatever he was experiencing, he saw it as an opportunity to draw close to me and to let me reassure him and strengthen him.
“The more Jesus spent time with me in prayer, the greater was his passion for my kingdom to be fulfilled: ‘Let your kingdom come, Father! Here I am. I have come to do your will, not mine.’ He prayed every morning that I would give him the strength to face the challenges and struggles he would face that day. Just think: he was God, and yet he prayed every day for the strength to say ‘no’ to evil. Will you pray for my strength and guidance as well?
“Jesus was never alone in prayer. I was with him every step of the way, just as I am with you. As he approached his greatest trial, just as a close friend was betraying him and just as he was about to take upon himself the weight of human sin, he withdrew to find me in the garden where he had prayed so often before. I promise, my children, that if during the regular course of your life, you seek my presence in prayer, then during the most painful times of your life, you will find me close by your side.
Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs. “Raised as a member of my chosen people, Jesus was intimately familiar with the psalms, the prayer book of Judaism. Think about how often he prayed the psalms: in the synagogue every Sabbath, at every sunrise and sunset, and throughout the day as he spoke words of love and sang songs of praise to me. My children, in the psalms you will find people from long ago praying with the same hopes and fears that you face today. Every day, as you begin your prayer, turn to the psalms. Then spend a few minutes praying or singing your own psalm to me. Know that as you do, you are joining a whole host of saints who have gone before you.
“Just as Jesus knew the Hebrew Scriptures, so your prayer should be filled with my word. In your prayer every day, take the time to read a passage from my word, even if it’s just a few lines. Ponder my word. Sit quietly in my presence and ask me to speak to you. I promise I will. I promise I will teach you. I promise I will give you words of encouragement, forgiveness, correction, and hope.
“Finally, before you end your time with me, take a few minutes to pray for the needs of those around you. Remember, you are my beloved, and you can come to me directly and ask me for whatever is on your heart. Have persistent faith. Know that even when your faith is as small as the tiniest seed, you can move mountains.
Be Formed by the Truth. “My children, I want to do more than just comfort you when you come to me in prayer. I also want to form you. I want to change you into the people that I have created you to be. Sin dulls your spirit and weakens your desire for me. But I want to form you in holiness so that you can say ‘no’ to sin. This is why I ask you to meditate on the wondrous truths that I have revealed to you. Meditate on the immensity of creation and you will see how glorious I am. Ponder how much I loved humanity—enough to create you in my very image and likeness.
“Meditate on the incarnation, when I sent my beloved Son to restore your relationship with me. This is not just an abstract doctrine to which you are to give your assent. My Son came for you, to die for your sins, to set you free from the power of the evil one, so that you could walk in my image and do good to others. Allow this truth to become your foundation of strength.
“Meditate also on the greatest of all my gifts: the Holy Spirit. My Son promised never to leave you as orphans. I have given to you the Spirit of love, the Spirit of power, the Spirit of holiness, the Comforter, the Advocate who will guide you into all truth. Ponder the truth that my Spirit lives in you, that I live in you, and that you are called to live in my will each day.
“Remember too that there is a heaven and a hell, a small reflection of which you can see in the world today. I look forward to the day when you will see me face-to-face, where there will be no more tears or sin. The more you set your eyes on heaven, the more you will long to bring the kingdom of heaven into this world each day. Meditate on these and other truths each day and allow them to form you. They are the rock on which you can stand when life becomes shaky.
Stay Close to Me. “The more you pray about such things, the more you will see signs that you are being formed in holiness. You will find yourself more peaceful during the busyness and the tensions of daily life. You will find that loving is more important than being right all the time. You will also find yourself ever more eager to be in my presence. Perhaps you will be drawn to meet me in the liturgy more often. Maybe you will find yourself turning your heart to me more often during the day.
“Know also that I am forming you when you hear my Spirit convicting you of sin. Why is this? Because conviction of sin and repentance are signs that you don’t want our relationship damaged. Treasure my gift of repentance, my children, for it truly does draw you ever closer to me.
“Enough said. All I ask is that you stay close to me. Trust that I am always with you and that I love you with an everlasting love.”