Q: When saying grace, in my private prayer after Eucharist, and during evening and night prayer, I ask for intercession. Yet I wonder whether this doesn't reflect a lack of trust in God, and conflict with my sincere acceptance of the presence and action of God in my life. I just don't think that I am in need of asking for God's help. God's loving help is always there. On the other hand, I also wonder whether such prayers are other reminders that we are all in God's hands.
A: While you wonder if your intercessory prayer is a reflection of a lack of trust in God, I believe that your intercessory prayers are a celebration of your trust and awareness of the presence and action of God in your life.
When you are thankful for favors granted, asking for forgiveness, expressing your love for the Lord, or admitting your own helplessness –"help" is the greatest prayer word according to Thomas Keating — you are in relationship with God.
Remember God does not need our prayers, we need our prayers; they bring flesh, blood and bones to our relationship with God and others. We are not angels but human beings and all our prayers and rituals open us to be fully alive on all levels of our being. It also reminds us of the second part of the great command to love our neighbor as ourselves. When our prayers move beyond ourselves and involve others, you are fulfilling both aspects of the great commandment of love. Centering Prayer keeps our intention open and detached so that we can give fully of ourselves. Our intercessory prayer helps us through that openness to be attentive to specific people, challenges and needs as they truly are. It is the dance of intention and attention.
I hope this helps you to see your trust and acceptance of God's presence and action in a broader way. Remember when we say "let us pray" we are saying "let us have a relationship" and you know better than me what living a relationship is all about.
I am looking forward to hearing from you. In my prayers.
Blessings, Fr Carl
And the response from Joe:
I am so appreciative of your careful consideration and thought in regard to my question. I know that you must be very busy, and I must say that I didn't expect this. I have read and re-read your email many times, and it is almost as if we were having a conversation because you approached the problem that I was having from so many different angles. I see so much more clearly now, and in fact feel unburdened. Thank you for being an instrument of God's loving grace!