The late Jesuit spiritual guide Anthony de Mello once told this story:
“An old man would sit motionless in church for hours on end. One day a priest asked him what God talked to him about.
‘God doesn’t talk. He just listens’ was his reply.
‘Well, then what do you talk to him about?’
‘I don’t talk either. I just listen.’
The Four Stages of Prayer:
I talk, you listen.
You talk, I listen.
Neither talks, both listen.
Neither talks, neither listens: Silence.”
As we look at our lives, all of us can probably say we are in some stage in our practice of prayer. Today’s Gospel encourages to keep doing our part – asking, seeking, knocking – and not to worry about God’s response, because it is assured. It would be great if talking with God was as easy as it was for Abraham in the first reading, but that is not our reality.
We are never helpless. Prayer in fact is a great remedy against helplessness. It gives us a grounding, a foundation in the moment, and helps prepare us to see God’s presence in the long haul.