Helping People Pray: What Can You Expect from Prayer?

It simply depends on who you think God is.

by Marlene Halpin, OP

Think about your friends. Friend A will always help you, without question or hesitation. Friend B, on the other hand, may help but wants to think about it. You learn which friends to trust with secrets and which ones to ask for favors.

Our expectations of God—and what we expect of prayer—have a lot to do with how well we know and love God. What are God’s characteristics?

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

This is the beginning of the Nicene Creed prayed at Eucharistic Liturgy. Christians have prayed it for more than 1,600 years! It can help us understand who God is.

The Almighty.

Do you truly believe God can do anything? Then you can ask for anything. Nothing is too small or too big. Not only can God do anything, God gives you what is good for you in the long run. That’s sometimes hard to understand at the moment. Do you trust God’s judgment? Then you can expect good from God.

Maker . . . of all things visible and invisible.

Because God our Creator knows you and all about you infinitely better than you know yourself, God knows how you feel and what you mean when you pray. You never need to worry about poorly chosen words or misunderstandings. Isn’t that a relief?

The Father.

This term carries all the best meanings of the word father: loving, caring, and wanting the best for you. You are utterly safe with God—no betrayal, no changing of the mind, no abuse, no abandonment. Admittedly, there may be times you feel otherwise. (Remember, that was true of Jesus on the cross.) Knowing God’s love doesn’t necessarily take away pain, fear, or the reluctance to face difficult times. But the Lord is with you—seen or not seen, felt or not felt.

If you truly believe that God is almighty, that God knows you completely and loves you unconditionally, you can expect two things from prayer:
• God’s Spirit and yours are united.
• The bond of love between you is strengthened.

What can you expect from prayer?
You can expect the best care from the God who loves you.

 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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