Saturday, August 17, 2013
Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Part III of series on prayer.
A big help to me in entering into this figuring out process can be found in the eleventh step of AA and the other 12-step programs states, "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."
What this gem of spiritual wisdom tells us is that we can't just go to prayer and ask God to let us know His will instantly. We need to pray and meditate regularly and grow in "conscious contact" as the step says. The more we grow in relationship with God the more sure we can be of knowing God's will. I'm always amazed when I see my married friends in action. If they have been together for a number of years and have a good relationship they often know what the other desires without even asking.
Another criterion for finding out the divine will is thinking not just of yourself, but of others. God always desires the greatest good, and the greatest good may not always be convenient for me as an individual. I was very impressed a number of years ago when a man that I know declined a major promotion which would have required a move to a far away city. He and his wife decided that in spite of the big pay raise the move would not be good for the family.
Never trivialize the seeking of God's will be fretting to much over small things. There have been several times in my life when I have been asked to pray that someone make the right decision over the purchase of a stove or a TV. I don't think that most of the time things like that are on God's radar screen.
Finally, be open to the big picture, seeing how a decision will play itself out over time. Often when we think God has let us down in the moment we realize only later that something that seemed so bad at one time lead us over the long haul to something wonderful. I remember well going to Bolivia in 1982 thinking that God was calling me to serve there for the rest of my life. That didn't work out. I came back wondering what was next. After a few years of floundering my provincial asked me to consider the preaching ministry. I've been in that work now for over 25 years and frequently preach in the Spanish language that I learned while in Bolivia. God knew hat was best in that situation.
If you want to know more about discerning God's will then ask a Jesuit. Discernment of spirits is one of their specialties.