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Transformation through prayer

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By Greg Hartman

Last month I discussed meeting Christ in the Eucharist and the meaning of evangelization. I touched on transformation. Many times we have read about the Transfiguration in Scripture. There’s a part of me that has wanted to walk up that mountain and be transfigured, or have that “awe” moment. We get that moment, yet it’s through the entire journey, not just one event. Adding prayer can enhance our journey and bring us to that “awe” moment.

Often, we think of prayer in the context of church or when we are in crisis (the old wise saying there are not atheists in foxholes). Yet prayer is a true opportunity to dialogue throughout our life, at home, at work, at recreation or anywhere with our savior. Prayer, like all things in life, takes time and effort. Prayer is our God on-demand! Prayer is the anchor to our lives, as well, or simply a grounding experience.

In today’s world, we’re so bombarded with media and our time has been compromised. Yet the more time we take to pray, the baby able we are to filter that noise we’re bombarded with. We read throughout the Gospel that Jesus withdrew “in prayer.” I don’t think that would have been placed in the Gospel happenstance. It was placed for us to model. We need that “alone” time with God and present ourselves as whom we are: not a resume, not trying to impress, simply being ourselves. I

t’s easy to email or tweet, or place on Facebook our “highlights” of our lives to our family and friends. It’s the same way in prayer. Think of it as a tweet to our Lord! The Lord will tweet back, but probably in a way you wouldn’t expect. It’s that time to withdraw in the home, shut off the computer, TV and phone and say “Dude, thanks for a cool day,” or “Dude I need you to help me with some things at work.” (I’m not sure it’s ok to call out our Lord by Dude or if there is a Dude equivalent to first century Israel). It truly is always having a line to our Lord and then taking time to listen.

Finding that quiet moment for reflection and listening simply takes effort and commitment. Then we take what we have learned in that quiet time and transform that by praying with our family and friends. Perhaps a start is when we’re dining, to say grace as a family at home or out at the restaurant. Even when things are in chaos, an example is the mystical force where the dryer seizes that special red colored sock that your child desperately needs to wear at school on red sock day and when all seems lost, a time to pray with your child and offer it up to the Lord.  Praying alone, centering on our Lord, and praying together at home enhances the foundation and fabric of our lives. Ok, you’re waiting for the cliché: “A family that prays together, stays together.” Some clichés are timeless.

At work when great things happen or difficult decisions are in front of you, take a walk outside and discuss those moments with the Lord. When dealing with a difficult co-worker, or when you run to the soda machine to get that all-important 3 p.m. soda and the machine takes the money but doesn’t deliver the soda: it’s that dialogue with the Lord.

Sometimes a “take five” in prayer can result in a different way of looking at a situation, especially at work (The proverbial count to 10 is also effective, but as Catholics we have that Christ on-demand option!). Even when driving to work and we’re caught in the daily traffic jams of the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, or the I-75-I-70 exchange in Dayton, we can use that moment to dialogue with the Lord, centering on what God wants from us that day, and perhaps the traffic jam isn’t so bad.

Recreation, or our down time, is a great chance to dialogue with the Lord. If you’re into walking, running, or biking, it’s a great time to pray and think about what the Lord is asking you to do. It’s the perfect art of multi-tasking. If you’re in that age group where Friday and Saturday night parties are still crucial to one’s social life, think about praying before hand , and taking the Lord along to the club or party. Even during a round of golf: which is perhaps the most difficult time, when your short game rivals a PGA pro but after a few worm burners or a slice that defies the laws of geometry, it’s a good time to get in the prayer zone (and an excellent way to embrace humility). No matter where we live, there are those moments when great natural beauty is before us. It is a great opportunity to take that all in and be with God.

No matter if you’re young or seasoned: we always love to share success. We are human, and we’re not always successful. Our instinct is to hold those failures close to us and not share them. After all, you don’t want to come home and say, I really was a massive failure at work today! Yet with God, we pray in our achievements and our failures. When we’re in exile away from the Lord in sin, the Lord knows anyway, so reach out and pray in that time.  It’s when we dialog with the Lord, when we put Christ at the center; our journey is transformed from ordinary to extraordinary.

So as we journey into Advent and Christmas, take Christ with you wherever you go. Simply clear time to be with the Lord and let the Holy Spirit take over. Pray at work, home and recreation: our God on-demand.

(Next month we’ll look at celebrating the gifts of the church in this Year of Faith..)

Hartman is the circulation manager for The Catholic Telegraph.

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