WHAT DO WE BELIEVE? WHAT DO WE PRAY?
There is an inseparable connection between prayer and what we believe. No one can sensibly and meaningfully pray without also believing what he or she is praying. Prayer is the expression of our faith in action. As conversation with God, we state what we are believing.
What do we mean when we say we believe? This question takes us back to the way, in which we received our faith. Receiving our faith is a holistic process, encompassing every part of our being and life. It is never and can never be just a piece in a puzzle. It is the whole puzzle put together by many pieces. Whatever the case, each Christian must from time to time give an account of what they believe and how they express it.
Our faith comes to us from example and teaching. We absorb faith the same way that we learn everything else in life: someone shows us the way. Faith is being shown the mystery of God in real life by way of example and teaching. Through the living example we learn something; but more importantly, what we learn sinks into our emotion and feeling, and when we reflect on it, it becomes our knowledge. We learn, for example, that God is love, forgiveness, compassion, truth and justice because we see God’s qualities alive in others. We embrace God with his qualities with our heart, with our feelings, because we trust, believe and love the example that shows us God. And as we reflect about, we gain the insight that God is someone, a person, not an idea.
What must we do to understand our own personal faith? First, we must go back to the experiences that showed us the way to believe in God. And we must remember, that without these, our faith will remain an idea, and God nothing but just another lifeless idea. These experiences can be our First Holy Communion, the Rosary prayed in the home, the lighting of a candle in Church, being taken to Holy Mass by the parents, the joyful celebration of the feast days like Christmas and Easter, the impact of the celebration on Good Friday, the catechism classes and the day of our Confirmation. Many times, our faith was inspired by the example of a person whom we found a credible witness to the life of Christ.
The source of our faith is God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture. Here we find a wealth of experiences with God showing Himself. People in Scripture know these experiences that allow them to acknowledge God as real, powerful, great, wise and loving. This experience is nowhere more visible than in the great liberation from slavery and the Exodus from Egypt into the Promised Land. In Jesus Christ God has become the One we “see, hear and touch”. When reading Scripture, we relive these experiences and the Holy Spirit unlocks them for us today. Our hearts want to hear and feel these experiences because our hearts are made for them in the Word of God.
An important source of faith is the prayer of the Church. The prayer of the Church is the faith experience of the people down the ages. What the people of God believe, experience and live, is found in its prayers, especially the celebration of Holy Mass.
We pray what we believe; we believe what we pray.
With these experiences as God’s revelation in Scripture and in the living example of witnesses we can do what faith really requires of us: we say yes to God. This “yes” must come from a pious heart, which is a heart with a desire for God; it has to come from a heart that has learnt to say “Abba, Father”, which is a direct statement and a simple feeling. It is total trust in God of Revelation in Scripture and God of life in the community today. Out of this faith comes affection for God and His People, and an interest in what belongs to Him. Our faith prompts us to revere God, love Him, talk to Him and, above all, trust Him; no matter what happens, God is in charge of life.
July 13th, 2018