It's funny how everything becomes silent and still before the experience of impact. "Oh *BLEEP*." These were the not-so-poetic words that permeated the silence before my car accident in 2011. Two words. A simple prayer. "Lord, help!" probably would have been more appropriate, but Jesus heard my intention even if the articulation of my request fell short (Good news for someone so often lacking). At the last moment, the driver of the silver sedan cranked his wheel to the left and collided with the fender above the front driverside tire, instead of directly into my door.
God always answers my prayers. Please, don't misunderstand that statement. God does not always give me what I want. That would not be the action of a good and loving Father, but He does, without fail, hear and answer my prayers.
The starting point for life-changing prayer is honesty. A good starting point for any relationship. For me, this looked a lot like a full-grown-man-tantrum. In the midst of personal loss, I walked into a chapel, into the presence of God, fell to my knees, and yelled, "THIS IS YOUR FAULT! WHAT'S YOUR DEAL?!" For the first time, holding nothing back, the veil over my heart was torn, and God had full access to me. For the first time we began to be fully disclosive to one another. I held nothing back, and neither did He. Over the next four years, He would in fact reveal what His deal was. Looking back I'm amazed to realize that when I entered into that chapel to confront God, even in the midst of my anger and defiance, the experience of His presence still drove me to my knees.
God teaches me to pray. The first lesson was honesty, and honestly, when I hold nothing back from Jesus in prayer, I find that he makes his response known. Knowing this, I want to pray recklessly, fully entrusting myself to him. Yet, I carefully measure my prayers, holding back my heart and my trust. I have refrained from speaking too many true prayers, fearing what Jesus might do with them. At times, I even deign to give him an out in case he doesn't answer the prayer in the way I expect. I sound like the father in Mark 9: "If you can do anything...." Do I really think the God who created the heavens and the earth isn't up to the task?
As God continues to unfold my heart, He continues to reveal to me my true desires. Sometimes prayers even fall out of my mouth before I really process them. More often than I care to admit, those prayers sound a lot like, "Oh, *BLEEP*!" Every once in a while though, I am surprised by their boldness. One afternoon praying the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary, quietly from the depths of my being came the whisper, "Lord, crucify me with you." Immediately, I froze. WHAT DID I JUST ASK FOR?!?! I quickly wrapped up my Rosary and went on with my day, pretending it didn't happen. Shortly afterward, I met my wife. Touché, Lord. Not the answer I feared; not the answer I expected. The answer to all vocational calls: As Christ died for his Bride, the Church, so was I called to give my life for my bride. The cross that would bring me the greatest joy. A cross designed just for me.
Honesty is an essential element for any loving relationship. Honesty leads to trust. Trust leads to intimacy. Intimacy enables you to recognize with explicit detail the voice of another, their touch, and their work. Pray honestly. Pray recklessly.
Jesus, heal me.
Jesus, change me.
Jesus, I trust you.