Sometimes people ask me what to tell their children when they ask if God really answers our prayers. I suggest that they respond that when we ask God for anything, we will always receive exactly what we need. And then I suggest they tell them the story of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. The story begins right after the Last Supper. Jesus knows that the people in power are very angry with him, and he knows what they do to people who anger them. So, he goes to his favorite spot in the garden to pray. Jesus is truly afraid. In St. Luke’s Gospel, it even says Jesus sweats blood. Jesus does not want to suffer. He does not want to die and prays with all his heart that the Father will not let that happen. Three times he prays, letting God know exactly what he wants. Finally, he tells God he trusts Him and will accept whatever happens. The Father answers Jesus’ prayer, not by removing his suffering or his death but by giving him just what he needs. The Jesus who gets up after praying is not the same as he was before. I’m sure that he is still afraid, but after his prayer he stands up strong and confident. God has given him enough courage to face whatever is to come. I suggest, as a result, that people let their children know that God is always with them, just as he was with Jesus. But it is important to remind them that having courage does not mean being without fear. Our bravest heroes and heroines are people who did the right thing even though they were deeply frightened. We need to teach our children to pray for what they want and to trust God to give them what they need. While on the subject of prayer, I wonder how often we offer prayers of adoration and thanksgiving. Adoration is recognizing God for who he is, the one who holds all of creation and each of us in his hands, the one who keeps us in his thoughts and heart at all times because if he did not, we would cease to exist. Adoration is joining Moses as he falls down before the burning bush because he recognizes he is in the presence of the living God. Closely connected to adoration is thanksgiving. We need to be truly grateful for all the daily blessings God showers upon us. In our rush to present Him with our needs and petitions, let us pause to first adore him for who he is and thank him for all that is.
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