Active Participants

January 18, 2011

One of my favorite authors is Margaret Silf.  I just finished reading her book Companions of Christ:  Ignatian Spirituality for Everyday Living.  One of the many things I am left pondering after reading her work is this quote:
“If there is no connection between the prayer we express with our mouths and in our hearts, and the place where we put our time, our energy, our resources, our passion, then nothing is going to change, however assiduously we pray it should.” (p. 98)
Whoa!  That is what I thought when I first read this.  Silf’s words speak profoundly to our call to be active participants in helping God answer prayers.  That means both the prayers that I “express with my mouth and in my heart” and the prayers others pray eventually require action on our part. I cannot pray for healing in a relationship, yearn for clarity on a decision, or pray to make it through a rough patch without being an active participant at some point.
For instance, healing can happen. God has a huge role in working on our hearts, making us more aware of what is blocking our healing,  and opening us up to love again.  At some point though, God needs our help.  God needs us to reach out to the person that hurt us and begin again.  God needs us to work on letting go of the pain, which requires an active role on our part to push old feelings out of the way to allow for new ones.
If I pray for change, I have to be willing to do the work to help the change to happen. The work may require swallowing pride or spending more time in prayer to seek clarity or making a choice to find one glimmer of light in my day or leading change within an organization or system.
The call to be an active participant with God is no light matter.  It is one that inspires me on some days and intimidates the heck out of me on others.  To participate means doing God’s work in God’s time, and God does occasionally challenge us to do what feels like theimpossible.
To be an active participant also means we are never alone in what we are hoping for and praying for.  God is hoping for the good as much as we are.  We do not stand alone nor do we act alone as we participate in helping God answer prayers!
What prayer have you been arduously praying that may require active participation on your part?
Are you being called to be an active participant in some way?

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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  1. Michelle

    Thanks for a great question to ask myself…

  2. Becky Eldredge

    You are welcome, Michelle! While I asked it, I am still challenge myself in answering it


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