You are on the phone with somebody. You tried your hardest to make it a cordial conversation but they said some very hurtful things and then hung up the phone. You sit there stunned, hurt, and angry. You want to call them back and “give them a piece of your mind”, call a friend and whine about how you were mistreated, or cry and kick something. Instead, why not take it to prayer? God cares about what we are going through and he is happy to help. This form of prayer is called Relational Prayer. Here’s how it works:
What is going on in your heart right now? Look at yourself (your thoughts, feelings, and desires) and try to name what you are feeling or going through.
Share it with Jesus. You can be completely honest with God about how you feel and what you think. There’s nothing “off limits.” This is the toughest step for me because I always try to deal with things myself. It helps me to picture Jesus with me. First I was looking at my problem (step 1); now Jesus is standing with me and He and I are looking at the situation together. I can begin to see how He sees the whole thing.
How does God respond to what you have shared? Maybe it’s a new insight into the situation, a change in feeling or thought, or just a sense of peace.
Respond to what you have received. This last step is easy to forget but if God is giving you a new insight or grace or gift, thank Him for it. Maybe you have more to ask, or maybe you just need to say ‘yes’ to God’s way of seeing.
Here’s a little personal experience of relational prayer:
Every month I turn in my business miles to my parish for reimbursement. I tracked my mileage carefully and gave a detailed day-by-day report. Before signing the check, a trustee liked to scrutinize every line item. He would hold off signing the check until he could question me about items that looked suspicious to him. One day there were miles related to a priest’s mother’s funeral that he thought were definitely not business. I argued with him but he refused to sign the check. I grudgingly agreed to void this check and submit my miles again without those items. I went back up to my office feeling furious. I also had a meeting starting in less than 10 minutes, and I couldn’t walk into the new meeting hopping mad.
So I prayed. I sat there and told Jesus that I felt like I’d been called a liar, that I did so much for the parish I how unappreciated I felt. Then I sat and stared at the image of the Good Shepherd. Jesus seemed to say, “I understand; I feel you.” I received a sense that my pain mattered. But also with Him looking at me, I had to admit that my pride was what hurt the most. I responded with “Thank You” to Jesus and went off to my next meeting.
It’s amazing how much moments like these can become a blessing if you are willing to open them up to the love of Jesus. The stuff of everyday life matters to God more than we realize. In fact, our failure to relate things to God can be our biggest obstacle to growing in a relationship with Him. It doesn’t have to be frustration. It can be the joy of a child or a sunrise, the peace of finishing a job, or the happiness of of a great conversation with someone. All these things can be the stuff or prayer. Give Him a chance to show you how much He cares.