FATHER, are you serious when you say we can talk to God?
Questions like that are often asked of me by people who find it incredible that we can talk to God. They have come so often that my answer has also become quite standard and routine.
Of course, we can talk to God! Itâ€™s no big deal to converse with God. It should be the most normal thing to do, since in the first place God is always with us. While we cannot always have anybody to talk to, and sometimes we can even forget to talk with our own selves, God on the other hand is always with us and is always willing to listen and talk to us too.
Thatâ€™s his nature. Thatâ€™s his desire. God is the very support of our own existence, and that of everybody and everything else. And he, mind you, does not support our life only in a passive way. Heâ€™s full of love, of solicitude, of attention and concern. Heâ€™s actually hot with us.
St. Augustine said, â€œto know where God is may be difficult, but to know where God is not, that is even more difficult!â€ Christ himself reassured his apostles, â€œBehold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.â€ (Mt 28,20)
We just have to learn how to acknowledge this reality. Our problem is that we restrict our grasp of reality to what is observable only by the senses, and captured by our feelings. Our thinking is often so dominated by these human faculties alone that it fails to enter into the spiritual and supernatural realities.
Worse, some people believe with the conviction of a man-made faith that reality cannot be anything beyond the biological, physical, or social at most. They laugh at any talk about anything spiritual or supernatural. Faith and religion have no place in their worldview.
In short, in the development of our humanity, many of us get stuckâ€”or prefer to get stuck and even to rationalize itâ€”in the anal stage. We hardly grow and approach the fullness of manhood. We seem to prefer to remain puerile or juvenile.
Conversing with God is always possible if we exercise our faith, and not just be influenced by the senses, emotions and an intelligence detached from faith. While faith is a gift, something given and received, it also corresponds to a need in our human nature. We always need faith, if not the one given from above, supernatural, then our own man-made faith.
Learning to talk to God, of course, goes through stages and requires a kind of training program. Thatâ€™s what we all go through when we learn somethingâ€”like to eat, walk, talk, study, etc. We need to practice and practice, then doing it until it becomes second nature to us.
In the beginning, just like anything else, learning to pray and talk to God is quite awkward. We have to go through the baby steps, the basic drills, etc. Of course, in learning to pray at the start, the awkwardness is not only physical. Itâ€™s emotional, mental, spiritual and moral.
Just the same, the obstacles can be hurdled one way or another. We just have to help one another and endlessly find ways to solve the problems that can come along the way.
For sure, the problems are myriad. In the first place, we have to contend with the stiff requirements of faith. Then we have to grapple with our laziness, not only the physical but also the mental. We can also suffer a lot of distractions and a languishing spell of spiritual dryness. But these are not insoluble. With Godâ€™s grace and our effort, we can overcome them.
Obviously, a lot of catechesis and apologetics is needed.Â We cannot deny the fact that there is an ocean of ignorance, error and confusion in this regard. Then a program of learning has to be devised and adapted to the personal conditions of each one of us. The objective has to be made subjective.
Very important are the living witnesses of people who truly pray and know how to relate everything to God. Their example can speak volumes and can drastically shorten the learning process of praying for all of us. Letâ€™s hope that we can cultivate a culture of prayer in our midst!
Letâ€™s make our raw prejudice against prayer a thing of the past. Letâ€™s talk to God, bringing everything to him, including our problems and failures. Letâ€™s grow to the fullness of our human and Christian maturity.