Thursday, August 19, 2010

God honoring prayer

Each day at the Anawim Home, the community arises before sunrise to head to 6am daily Mass. (The sisters gather in the Chapel at 5am to pray before Mass.) After school, they reconvene at 3pm to pray the divine mercy chaplet and again at 6pm for the rosary. In addition to these formal, corporate prayer sessions, each car trip, before and after each meal, and spontaneously whenever the situation called for it, they pray. We prayed with them. A lot.

At one of our nightly reflections, the team started to talk about all the praying we were doing. We noted a lot of different things:  the true dependence on God it showed, how formal the prayers were, everyone's discipline and dedication, the repetition, reminders for us of Catholic school (and yet how we still barely knew these prayers), and how it sometimes seemed labored. We all pretty much came to the same consensus that once home, you would not find any of us praying these traditional prayers on such a strict schedule.

Wanna guess why? Because we didn't feel any different. Before and after, not much seemed to have changed. No one was moved emotionally or really feeling the goose-bumps-presence of God. And none of us left asking for more.

Reflecting back on our discussion that night and the faith of the community in Gwagwalada, one thought comes to mind. I get caught up so much in the feelings of prayer and worship that I forget that its purpose is to give praise and honor to God. I'm guessing we weren't the only ones who didn't feel anything significant during those prayers, but you know what... everyone keeps praying! Every time they gather, they worship God. Every time 3 o'clock rolls around, they pray. Everyone at Anawim pauses to profess their faith, acknowledge their dependence on God, and lift up their needs and the needs of others in prayer. All feelings aside (good, bad, or indifferent), they pray.

I could make excuses about why the rosary or the strict schedule aren't my favorite, but the fact remains that those prayers are not about feeling good or holy and they are entirely about honoring God. And you know what else? I think He's listening. The amazing work being done by Sr. Oresoa and the sisters of the Poorest of the Poor is truly remarkable and would be impossible without divine assistance. The sisters realize this and they depend on Him. It was awesome to witness their faith and to know that Nativity is a part of such great work being done in Nigeria, a work so great that God is personally seeing to it that it gets done!

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