Prayer allows us to enter into communion and friendship with others. Our hearts realise what happens even if our heads do not. Gregory of Nyssa in the fourth century said that if people prayed seriously they would be reconciled. A frightening part of the Lords’ prayer is asking God to look on us as we look on other people: to forgive us as we forgive others. When we pray, we are taken to heaven. We have access to Christ through the father. We receive a share of God’s power. We are going to be able to do miracles. There miracles can be: giving our possessions to the poor, forgiving our neighbours and having the freedom to love like God.
When we pray we become aware of how unworthy we are. This has profound consequences for our relationship with others. It burns away a judgemental attitude towards others as every person, victim or oppressor becomes a brother or sister. The Gap between God and me can be bigger than what separates me from other people. When we pray we enter an intimacy with God. We cannot hold onto evil thoughts about other people. This does not mean we become naïve, but we speak truth together in love.
Jesus talked about two people praying in the temple. One was a tax collector who prayed the good prayer, “Lord be merciful to me a sinner.” The other was a Pharisee and prayed looking around at other people. Who was closer to God?
Jesus came for the sick and those who need healing. We do not need to be discouraged… we are all damaged and need healing. When we (re)discover an attitude of prayer, as Simone Veil said, we find an expectation of God. Simple ways can express this such as kneeling to pray.
Ms. Hillason, a resident in Amsterdam during World War II discovered an attitude of prayer all on her own. She learnt to pray with folded hands and a bended knee. Kneeling is the most intimate gesture. In prayer we cross an invisible line. Young people sense a difference in attitude in prayer immediately.
It is pointless to be seen in prayer. Jesus called for us to go to a private room to pray. Some pictures are as if the eyes follow you round the room and can see you from any angle. God is like this as he sees and understands ourselves better than we understand ourselves. There are many spectators in our passive society. If we see prayer in the same way it will make a boring film.
Zaccheus was a lonely person. He wanted to see Jesus. It as if the whole crowd was against him. Sometimes we can have questions about our own identity, but we know that we are ourselves. There is a place of loneliness in all of us. We can find a deep worry about whether we can be really loved, simply for who we are. Zaccheus got more than he expected, God came to meet him and even knew his name. Jesus continue to seek out the desire in us, not to control us or manipulate us but simply because he wanted to be a friend. When we trust in that more deeply we can be more who we are with other people.