by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
In this series on “How to pray”, I reviewed briefly how to prepare to have your prayers be heard in Part I, and how to begin praying in Part II.
In this third part, I want to talk about the most important foundation of Christian prayer: Smiling upon God, and His Angels and Saints.
True prayer is true communication, true relationship.
Not communication in the sense of chit-chatting or dialog. And not relationship in the sense of mundane every day affairs.
True prayer is founded upon our Baptismal dignity as adopted sons of God. We can pray better than all the Saints of the Old Tesament, better than all unbelievers, and better than even the Angels! — Because we are the adopted sons of God.
Prayer is NOT about getting something from God, however.
In fact, if God is solely someone you use to get something, you are actually committing mortal sin by such a prayer and merit Hell. God is not to be used. That is abusive.
God rather, as all the Saints teach, is to be enjoyed. In fact, He is the only thing and one that one should enjoy. (Enjoyment is not meant here as pleasure, but as spiritual fulfillment).
Here, to understand these heavenly things, we need to use a parable.
Remember the parable of the prodigal son. He demanded his inheritance and went to squander it in a land of sin. But having spent it all and found himself miserable, he began to think of how good his father was and how his father would receive him back IF HE ASKED TO BE TAKEN BACK.
What was going on in the soul of that son, when he made the decision to return home?
He was remembering his good father with hope and joy.
And it is thus, that true prayer begins.
Because God the Father is a good father to us, indeed, the best of fathers. If we neglect to consider Him in our souls and smile upon what we see, then we have not begun prayer with the right spirit or on the right foot!
Yes, your true prayers begin with a smile. Not the smile which is made with the facial muscles, but the smile which comes from the heart which loves a loving God, loves a loving Mother of God, loves a kind friend Angel or Saint.
Smile upon God. Smile upon Jesus Christ. Smile upon Our Lady standing at His right hand. Smile upon your favorite Saints, upon your favorite Angels.
Consider how good they are. How much they love you. How much good they have done for you. How much they want to help you. How glad they are to see you in prayer with them again.
And smile upon them, and upon all these things.
And already, you have begun and completed a most perfect prayer.
Because God knows better than we what we need. And indeed, what we need most of all is the grace to be realigned with His Will and do that upon this Earth. And that is given, when we smile upon and rejoice in God.
Saint John of the Cross says that this act alone, of rejoicing in God, is the greatest and most meritorious spiritual act, for in it consists a foretaste of the joy of Heaven, our eternal Fatherland.
So if you think prayer is a bore, a tedious practice, a waste of time, you have not yet opened the window of your soul, and looked south, upon the rising Sun, and smiled upon those elisean fields where God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, live and reign in the company of all the Angels and Saints, for ever and ever.
But if you, when you look South, do not see the face of a loving God, but of an angry God, then you have some mortal sin or many sins on your soul and need to confess your sin and repent of it. Because what you are capable of spiritually is based on what you are spiritually. And when you are in sin and darkness, you can imagine but not feel the gladsome days of the Light.