By Richard Rosario
Prayer. Being in Texas, there seems to be a lot of it around us in both private and public spaces. “I’ll be praying for you.” “Keep me in your prayers.”
“Bless your heart.” (Normally said if you encounter someone unattractive or lacking certain intelligence) “Don’t eat until you pray.”
Prayer being everywhere can be a good thing, especially during Lent. Prayer, along with almsgiving and fasting, is one of the pillars of Lent. Therefore, to be able to be surrounded by prayer during this time can be a blessing. Right?
Well, depends. When we see someone that is hungry on the side of the road, we say a prayer for him or her. If we are witnessing abuse, we say a prayer for the victim. If we are going through some difficulties, we will sometimes ask others to pray for us.
All of this prayer is a good thing. It shows our compassion for others, as well as reinforces our communication with God. But, what if everyone just prayed, and only prayed as a way to solve what we see as problems?
If someone on the side of the road is in need and all everyone does is pray, who will help them? The answer would be God. But He is not a fairy godmother that will magically wave His hand and food will appear for the person in need. God works through us by giving us each gifts that we can use to help others.
So if we see someone that is actually in need, if we have the resources to help, then that is what we are called to do. If we see someone being abused, we might know of places that offer resources and help for the victims of abuse. We should continue praying not just that the person in need is helped, but also to thank God for allowing us to serve others with the gifts He has given us. Prayers are not just for difficult times, they can also be for the good times as well.
And if we are going through problems, then we have to realize that the solution will not fall out of the sky, but would more than likely come from someone else. So we should pray that God opens our eyes to whatever help he sends. Because if you’re having financial problems and are expecting cash, but God sends someone who can help you be a better steward of your resources, then you might still be waiting for God to answer a prayer He has already answered.
If we continue to pray and understand that everything we have and everything we are is because of God, then the other two pillars of Lent – almsgiving and fasting – become easier to fulfill because we know what is expected of us by God.
In scripture, we read, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” (James 2:16)
Prayer is extremely important and the foundation of our faith. But prayer is just that, our foundation from which we pull strength in order to do the work of God using the gifts that He has given us. We cannot hide behind prayer to avoid our responsibilities as Stewards.
Prayer everywhere is good, but having good Stewards serving others is the answer to our prayers. That way there is more action as a result of prayer instead of the occasional “Bless Your Heart.”
Richard Rosario is assistant director of New Community Development in the Stewardship and Communications Department of the Diocese of Beaumont. His ministry is made possible by the gifts of the Catholic faithful of Southeast Texas through the Bishop’s Faith Appeal.