Helping People Pray: Prayer Begins with God

Prayer is our response to God.

by Marlene Halpin, OP

How do you describe prayer to a child? Here are three ways to talk about prayer.

When we pray, we remind ourselves that God is always with us.

People talk about “being in God’s presence.” Well, no matter what we do or don’t do, we are in God’s presence because God is with us always. When we pray, it’s a way of reminding ourselves that God is with us. When we think often about God’s being with us, changes occur in the way we act and talk and think.

We don’t have to go anywhere to be with God. All we have to do is remember that God is already with us. Prayer—whether it’s a wellknown prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer or a prayer we make up at the moment—helps us remember that we are in God’s presence.

When we pray, we are responding to God’s love.

Before we ever did or said anything, God loved us. Because God loves us, we are able to love God and others. We may think that we have just decided to pray. But somewhere deep in our spirits, God has been talking to us, loving us. So it is that when we pray, we’re simply responding to that love.

It’s like when someone smiles at you and gives you a hug—isn’t it easy to smile and hug back?

When we pray, we are saying yes to God’s invitation.

God wants us to be in touch. God wants to hear from us, to spend time with us. Prayer is one way that we stay in touch with God. As we tell God what’s going on and how we feel and what we think, we are staying in touch in the same way that we stay in touch with people who mean a lot to us.

It’s important for children to understand that prayer doesn’t start with them. God starts it. God starts our prayer by being with us, by loving us, and by inviting us to stay in touch. When we pray to God, we are remembering that God is with us. When we pray, we are returning the love that God has given us. When we pray, we are saying yes to God’s invitation to stay in touch.

Prayer begins with God. We can respond to God’s love, or we can ignore it. That is our choice.

 Marlene Halpin, OP

Marlene Halpin, OP

Sister Marlene Halpin, O.P., is a nationally recognized speaker and author on the topics of prayer and spirituality.

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