By Fr. Thiago, sx –
When I was attending English classes in the Ateneo de Manila University, one of my classmates told me: “Father, my family is very much catholic, but I don´t go to church because, in my opinion praying is too boring.”
Many people say that to pray is too boring. It´s not surprising for me to hear this because, I think, it depends on how we understand praying. For many persons, praying is a moment for asking, and asking, and asking many things from God. They pray only when they are in need of something. In this way, God is functional to their needs. Actually to pray to a God who is a merchant, with whom I can establish a contract, must be very boring. For several other persons, praying is a way to avoid divine punishment. In this perspective, God is a kind of a police officer ready to judge and to give his penalties. In reality to pray to this police officer God must be, again, really, really boring. There are also people who go to church in order to fulfill a precept. In this way, praying is merely a formal rite: just a ceremony. But to pray to a formal God, that I meet only on Sundays, must be truly boring.
All these modalities of praying can be perfect formulas for boredom! But, these approaches have nothing to do with the very essence of praying. Actually praying is not boring because it is:
- a relationship: if I ask you, “Why do you spend time with good friends?” Perhaps your answer will be: because it is so pleasant; it makes me feel good. Likewise when I go to pray, I´m going to meet my friend, my best friend, who never leaves me alone and who takes good care of me. Prayer is a meeting cœur à cœur (heart to heart) with God, in Jesus Christ through his Spirit.
a path: just as I spend time with my friends, because I love them and I want to know them better, I spend time in prayer because I love God and I want to be with him and to know him better. He is not the merchant, but the Lord of tenderness and compassion; he is not the police officer, but the Father full of love who blows in our life his Spirit of love; he is not the formal God of Sundays, but the God who fills every moment of my life with sense, as Jesus revealed to us.
- a commitment: If I have understood that prayer is a relationship in which I meet the One who gives sense to my existence, this experience should enlighten every moment of my life and bring me to affirm like Saint Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;” this experience should illumine all my actions and deeds and open me to my brothers and sisters.
Therefore praying is not boring, it depends on how we understand what praying means; on how we engage in this path of love and friendship with the one who is capable to make our lives more human and more divine.