Posted July 18, 2005 in My Dear Family:
Listening to God

by Catherine Doherty.

We tend to pray with great intensity for the things we want, but do we ever think of praying for what God wants?

Usually when our desire for something “cools off,” so does our prayer. It is very important, therefore, that when we pray, we move with the current of God’s will, and not against it. This is true even when we are praying for someone we love tremendously.

When my husband Eddie was in a car accident and I was on my way to be with him, I prayed fervently that he might be well. But in my mind, every second, I forced myself to add, “If it be thy will.”

If God wanted to take Eddie home, for whatever reason, I had to be willing to accept it. I had to mentally pronounce words to the effect that I was ready to do God’s will and to move in its stream.

The greatest act of a person is to do the will of God. You may ask me, “How do I know his will?” “How do I know which ideas are mine, and which belong to God?”

There is only one answer. To know his will, I must learn how to listen to him. This can happen only through prayer and under the guidance of a spiritual director.

To me, prayer has always been a matter of listening. When I was little, I used to run in the low hills which were covered with wild flowers. I would lie down and the wind would go through the flowers and they would bend back and forth, and God would speak.

Of course, I was little then, and my imagination was vivid. But if you keep listening to God, one day you will see him, and this is what makes it an adventure.

Now I get up in the morning, and I begin to listen as I move through the day. As I do so, a tremendous peace comes upon me. I dictate letters. I sort donations. I look at books. I talk with members of the community and with visitors.

Sometimes people are not feeling up to par, and there is irritation and anger, and the voices become a cacophony that rolls over me like thunder.

But I smile and listen, and answers come because somewhere deep within, I have peace, God’s peace. In the midst of the turmoil around me, this inner listening brings peace.

On the human level, I might be mad as a hatter at the things that are going on. But it is like a storm over an ocean; fifty fathoms down, everything is calm.

People are like that. The storm can rage, but as long as there is peace beneath it, all is well. It is a way of participating in the sufferings of Christ. He too must have had some pretty stormy days when he was on earth.

From Grace in Every Season, pp. 35–36, available from MH Publications.


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