The Process is the Prize

“You built up strength within me” (Psalm 135:7).

Jesus teaches that prayer is not a quid pro quo moment in which we ask God for something, and God either gives it to us or not. No, prayer is a process that takes us deeper into our relationship with God.

When a person seeks, he or she begins a process of discerning what it is they are looking for. “What is it that I really want?” “Am I looking in the right places?” “Is there a deeper gift behind the surface thing I first thought would satisfy me?”  

The prayer actually begins when we begin to dialogue with God, who listens to us describe, then refine our search. God is like the friend who listens to us tell how difficult a problem is or how much we want something, then says, “I would be willing to work with you on this.”  Not, "Here’s your answer."

So God accompanies those who seek, works with those who keep knocking on doors until one opens, or explores a question someone is carrying until insights begin to appear, strategies that they can try. The process always involves the person who is praying. They often have the answer to their own prayer.  God enhances our dignity by showing us how we can solve our problems without instant help or miracles.

And, whatever the prayer, along the way, we get closer to God, trust God more, realize that the most important result of prayer is not stuff but God, the source of all blessings. We come to know face to face the One who knows us and loves us already and wants us to experience the power of the faith community around us, the many  needs and resources waiting to be shared, the joy and gratitude that comes from understanding that the way to heaven is heaven.