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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Prayer - once, twice, three times?

What is the difference in praying for/about a specific intention over and over versus praying for/about it once and “letting it go” by giving it up to God and
trusting Him with it?

     This question is a good reminder of the prayer card I gave out earlier this year with the image of Our Lady of Tepeyac (a.k.a. Our Lady of Guadalupe) entitled “Prayer of Miraculous Trust.” You might recall that this prayer is intended to be used only once for each intention that is attached to it, that we might learn to place our trust in God’s providence.

     To understand what is meant by “letting it go,” let me quote for you the words of explanation and instruction printed with the prayer on the prayer card itself: “This prayer is to help you turn things over to God, trusting that once you have done so, whatever He then allows is for your eternal good and that of those you love. It lets you ask what you want of God, then closes by abandoning yourself to what God wants of you. Do not say it more than once for any particular intention, as this is an abandonment to trust.”

     The explanation plainly refers to how God allows for whatever happens in regards to the “eternal good” of the particular person, intention, or circumstance for which the prayer is offered. This eternal good is the key to all prayer, whether we are talking about a prayer that is said repeatedly or only once.  In all cases, the end goal of prayer is greater union with God and His will – which in a word is “heaven.”  Wherever we are in our personal relationship with God, the task of praying with a willingness to let go, knowing that God always has our eternal good in mind, is a task that we ought to consciously practice.  In other words, all of us hopefully are willing to learn to pray more for what is eternal (both for ourselves and for others) minding that when we pray for what is good, true, and proper in the world, our prayer ought to be founded upon our hope for eternal life in heaven (as opposed to simply a worldly goal of a prayer being answered for worldly ends). Therefore, to pray and let go becomes a way of trusting in God’s desire for us in the realm of eternity – even when that plays out in this life in ways or events that are difficult – as these difficulties are often understood as being meant for our purification and being made holy.

         By contrast, the way of praying over and over again for an intention is also to be rightly seen as proper and not to be frowned upon. We have multiple places in the Gospels where Jesus exalts praying with persistence and without ceasing. Once more, as prayer is intended to bring about our greater union with God, we ought to prayer regularly and repeatedly for our own needs and those of others – in the interest of eternal life. Such repetitive prayer also ought to be offered with trust: trusting that by our repetition and persistence, God is aiding us in being conformed more onto Himself and His will, and less to this passing world. On the other hand, the prayer of praying once and letting go is meant to build up within us is a deepened trust that God is always with us, working through all things for good according to His purpose (as Paul says in Romans 8:28). Thus, it is good to persevere in persistent prayer; it is, however, a greater act of trust to pray once (mindful that God hears every prayer, even those uttered only once) and to no longer dwell upon it as though we need to keep “bugging” God about it but to be conscious that he wants our good and invites us to trust that the true good will be brought about, even if it is not what we have asked – as our true good is not of this world, but of heaven.

     And so, I urge all to continue to make use of the Prayer of Miraculous Trust. If you need another or additional copies of the prayer card (for yourself or others), I have more available to give away at the parish office.

 

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