Frustrations in Prayer

Michael Lane

Fr. Ronald Knox, an English Catholic of the early 20th century and convert, gave retreats and talks to lay people to help them deepen and improve their spiritual life. In his Spiritual Guidance for Christian Living: A Retreat for Lay People, he gathers two dozen talks and homilies written for lay people and the troubles they experience. One chapter deals with the rich young man from Mark 10:17-31.

Jesus and this young man meet during one of  Jesus’ many encounters with the Jewish people and their leaders. The young man desired to know how he may attain eternal life. Jesus responds first with holding to the Ten Commandments, which the young man has held to since boyhood. Then, Christ says, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and, come follow me.” Instead of running off and doing as Christ commanded, the youth went away “sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Looking to Christ

We have it on record then. Christ looked someone temporally in the face and was rejected. He who has our best always in His heart was turned away when His answer was not what was desired. St. Mark tells us Jesus looked “upon him and loved him.” Other than St. John and Jesus’ friends at Bethany, no other individual is described as such in the Gospel.

Fr. Knox comments at length on this plight of Christ. Individuals who desire the good of those whom they are fondest plan and try for the best for them, only to be thwarted by bad luck, timing, or, simply, rejection. Granted, God cannot feel disappointment in the sense He was caught unaware by unforeseen events, but, He, in His great capacity, could feel the disappointment of a desired end never realized.

In our lives, we encounter disappointment and suffering in all manner of ways. Job loss or difficulties, family and relationships, financial issues, children, plans for the future, and more. These are hard enough to bear when we are the ones hurt by hard times, but the burden increases when the ones we love are hurt and we are at a loss to fix the problems. Even when the plans or issues are good, such as parents ‘helping’ a child decide on a major, or, more seriously, trying to help those we love get to Heaven. I feel the later most acutely when I learn of another friend leaving the Church.

Desiring the good of those we love is only natural. But, having good intentions does not necessarily translate to knowing what is the best path for ourselves or others. We must trust in God’s will and do our best to follow His plan rather than our own.

‘Forgotten’ Yet Forever Loved

During times of desolation, when we can no longer feel His presence in our prayer life or are suffering, we can think we have been left to fend for ourselves, possibly hardening our hearts. In his When God is Silent: Finding spiritual peace amid the storms of life, Archbishop Luis Martinez uses the fearful Apostles on stormy Lake Tiberias shouting for Jesus to awake and save them (Matt 8:23-27; Mk 4: 36-41; Lk 8:22-25) as an example of the reality of Christ’s love even when he appears asleep in the rear of the ship. How could Love itself abandon the beloved? His presence and love is merely veiled by sleep.

Remembrance of Christ’s love, even under terrible suffering, is extremely important. No matter our burdens, Christ is with us. When the sun shines and a gentle rains fall our soul soars with joy. We know Christ is near us as we bathe in His radiant love. But, when clouds form and winds blows hard we believe He has walked away. So, we run after Him to tell him of the tremors around us. As if He didn’t know or had ever left.

How quickly do we look for God to prove His presence in these times rather than trusting His love. Rather than letting Christ remain at rest with His eyes closed but heart wide open, we would claim abandonment, negligence. Our sufferings, spiritual and temporal, shroud our sight from what is in front of us. Do we still sit a peace before the Blessed Sacrament? Do we continue to pray even when we receive no immediate consolation? Do we patiently await His awakening to calm the storm?

Christ did not only demonstrate His love in miracles, parables, and mercy. He showed the greatness of His love through His passion, through suffering. God is omnipotent. He could have chosen any manner of redemption but He chose the cross for love of us. Do we contemplate how our sufferings may unite us to His passion? Do we offer our tears as gifts of love and trust? What I mean by this is are we more focused on ourselves, our own suffering, or on God. In other words, does our love of God and trust in Him go only as far as He tangibly gives.

Suffering and darkness purges and tempers the soul when we follow the light of faith. A guiding beacon in the darkness. Humility and charity grow when we are able to increasingly look outside ourselves in our sufferings, as hard as that may be.

When the Waters Rise Amid the Storm

So, what are we to do when we are lost or feel abandoned? Do we simply give up and wait until Christ ‘returns’? Walk away forever? No. If we love God, if we love others, we must not lose faith or give up hope. To love is to be compelled to action with hope in The Lord. Fr. Knox reminds of three things. First, Christ too knew suffering and disappointment. He too struggled for others and called to them and was not heeded. Christ too knew bodily suffering, the death of loved ones, and spiritual affliction. Try relating to His sadnesses in prayer.

Second, never stop praying. Don’t believe for a second prayer is pointless or produces nothing. Fr. Knox uses the brilliant example of St. Anthony who heard what Christ said to the young man and acted. Anthony went, sold all he had, and became a model of western monasticism. Somewhere your prayers and perseverance will have an impact. Prayer itself can become a sacrifice when we are suffering.

Lastly, for those of us who face sadness and frustration, don’t try to stop helping others simply because your efforts seemingly never bear fruit.

…follow your own instincts; some people will have a special interest for you, will make a special claim on your sympathies; don’t resist that attraction: it is all part of the nature God has given you, and therefore of the destiny God has arranged for you. But be prepared to make a mess of things; you probably will. Probably, as I say, the good you do will be something quite different, something you never intended–as likely as not something you will never hear about. But do what your hand finds to do; and then, when you are alone with God in your prayers, tell him that you want to be of use to those souls he means you to be of use to, those and not others. Tell him that you are ready to work for him blindfolded, and wait till the Day of Judgement before you ask what the result of your work was. –Fr. Ronald Knox

Peace in times of frustration and fear is what Christ offers for those who are open to His grace and will. Peace to men of good will. Do not confuse peace with solitude or a rejection of all the possible outliers of discomfort or even the absence of suffering. Christ’s peace resides in our hearts regardless of sufferings. We simply tend to forget.

Archbishop Martinez wrote that this peace must be sought unceasingly through three paths to peace. First, faith in God’s love and providence to the point it seems in excess of the possible. That we are lovingly “carried in Divine arms” from yesteryear to next. Our struggles with sinfulness and sufferings help to sanctify us for our journey’s end, Heaven (Rom 8:26-28).

Second,  hope in God’s promise of eternal happiness with Him, in the reality of the divine promise. “Suffering without hope is a bitter, insupportable burden.” Hope holds us close to the joy of Christ and reminds us Christ has given us what we need for salvation. We are called to respond accordingly.

Lastly, love, charity. 1 John 4: 18 “Perfect love casts out fear.” We may still worry and suffer but nothing (Rom 8: 38-39) can separate us from God’s love except our own choices. In short, faith, hope, and love will strengthen and sustain us in our troubling times.

When our prayers become difficult in suffering remember Archbishop Martinez’s words,

Lord, this instrument You are now using to sanctify me must be very precious since Your love sends it. Yes, I recognize it but it pains me. Allow me, then, to weep and to complain. And Jesus allows us to weep and to complain, but what He does not want is that we become disturbed; while we groan and weep, He would have us preserve peace in our heart.

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48 thoughts on “Frustrations in Prayer”

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  5. Hi Michael. I am a cradle Catholic turned atheist and some consider me a troll because I get on these sites and present opposing viewpoints. There is an old saying: if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. That is what I think about inspirational articles like this one.

    When I sit back and think about what I really need in this life, it would be for the God that is described in articles like this as well as in the teachings of the Church to not be made up, but real. Who could ask for more. But my problem is that our concept of God has evolved and developed to suit our needs. So. What I need just so happens to be exactly the God described by you and others. How convenient.

    There is something truly amazing though. First, the Jews came up with a concept of a god who existed when nothing else did and then brought everything into existence in a very short time span. That sounds a lot like the Big Bang. For years we thought this universe always existed. So the idea of it having a beginning, a genesis, made for a good fairy tale, but was thought to have nothing to do with reality. Now we know that everything did come from nothing. So the Torah wasn’t that far off the mark.

    Then, the concept of a messiah came along and what are the chances that a man with a revolutionary philosophy that changed the world also happened to fit the qualifications for that messiah. He could have been like Alexander the Great or Julius Ceasar or Napoleon. Why was this person taken to be the Messiah just the opposite. Why was he meek and mild? There had to be a purpose for a man ultimately accepted as God to be just what the world needed and whose teachings could be spread through the infrastructure of one of the greatest empires that ever existed. What are the chances?

    And doesn’t it seem way to convenient for us that we could be healed of our worst inadequacies by believing and spreading that belief. And after he left us, what are the chances that he would send a Helper, the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us? And also, a Church was established and has become one the most important resources and sanctuaries ever known to exist. What are the chances of all this being true? It seems to good to be real.

    1. It is too good to be real, but it is God’s reality for all of us. Love that surpasses all human knowledge and peace that surpasses all understanding. Guy McClung San Antonio

    2. It is amazing that the religion that preaches peace and love has the upper hand over the one that promotes conversion by means of conquest and jihad. That in itself is miraculous.

    3. Bill,

      I would consider you a troll if you constantly tried your best to anger people and push buttons. If you don’t do that we are good. Alright? If you’re searching then carry on. Just do your best to be polite and courteous.

      I’ll go paragraph by paragraph. Be careful not to confuse Catholics’ concept of God with the Church’s explanation and teachings of God. Additionally, be careful not to confuse who individual relate to God, which is subject to change even within a generation, to the constants of who God is.

      The Big Bang Theory was actually developed by a Catholic priest who was friends with Albert Einstein, Georges Lamitre.

      Concept? Are you referring to the the OT or do you think that there was no idea of the Messiah until Jesus? Do chances really matter? Things which seem unlikely to occur or not in varying degree happen all the time in our daily lives.

      You keep speaking of chances. What of those who have cancer or suffer severe heart attacks or strokes and are told there is almost no chance of a recovery, but, make it. If things such as this can occur ‘against’ the odds why not God or His Church? What about our very existence? God’s love seems impossible or in excess because He is love itself.

    4. “What are the chances” was rhetorical like. “Wow. What are the chances of that happening. That’s a miracle.”

      I don’t get “Be careful not to confuse Catholics’ concept of God with the Church’s explanation and teachings of God.” Unless you are saying that many Catholics misrepresent the faith and we need to listen to the Church. I get that.

    5. Well, I’d say how both society and modern approaches to God, Christian and otherwise, have turned God into a bit of a year-round Santa Claus. I decided to write this article after discussing with some friends how we approached God in the good times. Is He the one we share the good moments? Or, is He a gift-giver and game-changer only? I’d say we all go through the stage of begging to receive but never giving our hearts to God.

      And yes, I’d say there are good individual Catholics, laity and clerical, we can listen to and trust. But, the Church, the Magisterium, is who we should look to for guidance when we are confused. The Magisterium, the teaching of authority of the Church, is guided by the Holy Spirit. An individual may or may not be.

      Remove religion for a moment. Just look at the world. Could random chance have produced such a place with us in it? Certainly, if the universe violated its own laws by creating something out of nothing. But, let’s just assume it could. Why would the world have to look the way it does? The dice came up that way? Sure, why not. But, why would it have to be beautiful to us? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though. Humanity, in every place and time, has found beauty in their surroundings. Why should clumps of rocks, dirt, plants, and a few wild animals speak to us? Cultures change, societies change, and the like all change. But, beauty and goodness remain in each age. Why? I would say, the world, created by God, is beautiful to us because we too are created by God. And, despite our fallen natures we can still receive the world as a gift from God. Only a God, through Love, could create a world that speaks to the human soul and beckon the soul to contemplate Heaven and beauty. This might sound like a mere emotional appeal but humans are not just logic. If you prefer, logically there is no reason for us to find any beauty in anything. The odds of beauty, something most would say is highly subjective, existing are slim to none. There is still beauty all the same. Beauty and our existence are miracles of a high order. But, we tend to forget such ordinary, everyday miracles like breathing or a sunrise.

      I would say you are right on some level. Salvation history is a miracle of sorts. I’d say it does seem too good to be true. What else would you expect to find? We are talking about an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God giving of Himself for our salvation out of love for us. Yeah, the cup is going to overflow a bit. And His Church. Her very existence through 2000 years of famine, plague, war, persecution, heresy, and schism is a miracle. Pride and human stupidity should of sank the ship long ago. But, she remains to shepherd souls to Christ.

      Do not base your belief or unbelief in God solely on the odds. Philosophy and science can only get you so far on the odds. In end, you either believe or you don’t. For myself, I am convinced by the proofs for the existence of God, but they are still only proofs. I have to take the leap. From a scientific perspective, the world make sense. Isn’t convenient that the world is created in such a way that we can discern its workings with our humble human minds? A world which opens its fruits up to us to live off of and possesses metals and materials from which we can craft and wield tools for our benefit and recreation. I mean, food, water, shelter is all we need but we are given the possibility and the means for so much more.

      I won’t say belief in God is easy. I will say this belief comes easier for some more than others, regardless of their sufferings or experiences. But, ease, or lack their of, in belief has no bearing on if God exists or not. I personally have never faced that particular cross. My faith difficulties came in living out what I believe. Which is also not necessarily easy. If your struggle is ‘does a god of some kind exist?’ start there and move forward. Struggles and doubts in faith are not wrong. Purposefully persisting in ignorance or turning a blind eye to what you know in your heart to be the truth is wrong. There is nothing wrong with the prayer, “God I do not believe. Please, help me with my unbelief.”

    6. Remove religion for a moment. Just look at the world. Could random chance have produced such a place with us in it?

      The likelihood is so infinitesimally small that there would have to be almost an infinite number of universes, all with different laws of nature and physical constants, for those of our universe to be just right for our existence. Even then, there would still have to be an intelligence behind the creation of such a ” multiverse”.

      We are extremely blessed (fortunate) to have such a naturally beautiful universe and an ability to perceive it with our senses and appreciate that beauty. What are the chances? That’s a rhetorical question. Asking it is the first step in coming to believe is a supernatural intelligence that we call God.

    7. We are extremely blessed (fortunate) to have such a naturally beautiful universe and an ability to perceive it with our senses and appreciate that beauty. What are the chances? That’s a rhetorical question. Asking it is the first step in coming to believe is a supernatural intelligence that we call God.

      Indeed. A God who can only ever be Love.

      I would like to share here one of those wow moments for me.

      I have always had a kind of blur when trying to think of the Holy Spirit. The first phase of clarity for me was when I read (I think) St Augustine’s explanation that the Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. Although that gives some kind of clarity to my conception of the Holy, there is also this event of Pentecost. So these two ideas are kind of separate in my head.

      But several weeks ago, Tom and April Hoopes on their article “Jesus, the Reverse Moses” wrote: He promises not to leave it all up to them.
      “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,” he says, “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
      The Holy Spirit is God’s love — the power that created the earth and will renew it.
      It is that power we pray for as we await Pentecost.

      And then I thought Wow! What descended on the disciples at Pentecost is the Living Flame of God’s love and it is this Living Flame of Love that impelled them to proclaim the truth that God IS Love.

      Some days later as I read “Unbound” by Neal Lozano, he also said something similar. Can’t remember the exact words but something along the lines of Jesus BREATHING His LOVE into those areas of our heart that need it.
      So when you think of the Helper, the Advocate who speaks for us, then it becomes easier to get our head around this idea of God advocating for us, springing to our defence, because this Advocate is God’s Love.

    8. Yes. It all makes perfect sense. But this is as far as I can go because I really don’t like the God of the Bible. Jesus was the opposite of God. It is like doing business with Grumpy and Son and only wanting to deal with the son. It is only trusting Jesus when he says his father is really a good person once you get to know him that would make anyone want to have anything to do with him. The Old Testament God is not someone I want to hang out with.

    9. I really don’t like the God of the Bible. Jesus was the opposite of God.

      If Jesus was the opposite of God, then you are saying that the God of the Bible is evil or the other way other around?

      The Old Testament God is not someone I want to hang out with.

      Only because you have a deficient knowledge of the Old Testament.

      I think your knowledge of the OT would be like the way this letter has been mangled:

      Dear Son, I ….. don’t want to spend time ….with …. you because I … shower you with …. all the evil that has been besetting you these past few days. I want to pour ….. into your heart … hatred and anger …

      When the full letter reads like this:

      Dear Son, I have been thinking a lot about you these past few days and though you don’t want to spend time with me, I would like to spend time with you because I want to shower you with blessings and remove all the evil that has been besetting you these past few days. I want to pour out my love into your heart that you may experience joy and not be filled with hatred and anger anymore

    10. If Jesus was the opposite of God, then you are saying that the God of the Bible is evil or the other way other around?

      Put it this way. Judaism and Islam portray a much less likable God than Christianity. It is only Jesus, who projects God in a way that I would like to think of the intelligence behind all this.

    11. Put it this way. Judaism and Islam portray a much less likable God than Christianity. It is only Jesus, who projects God in a way that I would like to think of the intelligence behind all this

      Well, I state now that you are partially wrong. Islam does indeed portray a God that is bad. It is there. And the problem with Islam too is the practice of abrogation. Essentially, it means that where two or more surra’s contradict each other, the later sura supersedes the one’s before.
      The problem is the blood thirsty teachings from Allah, are in the later suras and the benign ones are in the earlier suras.

      Judaism is quite different. Firstly, Jews and Christians do not believe that the OT is the literal word of God in contrast with Islam which teaches that the suras were dictated word for word by Allah Himself.

      Secondly, the problematic and difficult verses in the OT needs to be see in light of the broken covenant and how God is trying to reform His people. There is no such thing in the Quran. It is nothing more than a series of dictates of God’s laws. In the OT, the laws and the theology are woven into the story the people of God, the Israelites.

      Thirdly, the teachings of mercy and love come to fulfilment in Jesus which comes towards the end of the Bible.

      In our discussions before, I recommended that you do the Quick Journey Through the Bible program by Jeff Cavins. It is being offered in several parishes around the US. You cannot understand the Bible without understating the narrative of Salvation History. I bought the program myself because I wanted to help others learn how to read the Bible and I can tell you that the impact on these people have been tremendous. Many are like you who have a very negative view of the God of the OT. If you cannot find a group doing this, I highly recommend buying it. It is well worth it.

      But if that is too much of an outlay, then please, please, please – get hold of Walking With God, by Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray.
      If you are serious about learning the truth, then this is a very good place to start.

    12. You cannot understand the Bible without understating the narrative of Salvation History.

      What is the “Salvation History” for Jews in the Old Testament? Do we tell them their religion is meaningless without the fulfillment of the OT with the NT?

    13. What is the “Salvation History” for Jews in the Old Testament? Do we tell them their religion is meaningless without the fulfillment of the OT with the NT?

      You have made a very good point there.
      This is something that has always perplexed me.
      Judaism is centered on the Temple – on temple sacrifices. They have been without a temple for centuries. So even in their own terms, their worship is incomplete. All they have is the wailing wall.
      I don’t know how they reconcile this with the prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah and all the other OT texts that we see the fulfilment of in Jesus.
      This is why many Jews who convert and become Catholic realize that in becoming Catholic, they do not lose their Jewishness. They in fact become fulfilled Jews.

    14. But it is no longer a Church policy to try to convert Jews. So we must be acknowledging that their religion is appropriate for them to follow and they no longer have to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior or even their Messiah. We pretty much accept both Judaism and Islam and don’t have to convert people of these or other religions.

    15. But it is no longer a Church policy to try to convert Jews

      May not be Church policy but still Church desire. If Jesus is God, and the Church believes so then she would not be true to herself if she does not desire that all come to know and love Him.

      We pretty much accept both Judaism and Islam and don’t have to convert people of these or other religions

      That is false and springs from a misunderstanding of Vatican II. We recognize that both apprehend the reality of One God, but one is closer to the Christian faith than the other. Our faith is not just Christian, it is Judeo Christian. To excise the Judeo part is to misunderstand what Christ is all about.

    16. May not be Church policy but still Church desire.

      I think it is a misguided desire. No Christian should desire to convert people of other religions to theirs. Most of all Jews. We accept the Jews just the way they are. Muslims I’m not so sure about, but the Pope shows respect for Islam and other faiths and we should too.

    17. Wow. You guys went through a lot so I’ll just do a quick hi-light response.

      Salvation history in respect to Jews can seem difficult. We do not tell them their religion is meaningless. This is neither charitable nor fruitful for conversion. Having respect for another person’s belief and not trying to convert them are not the same thing. We should always show respect to others and act charitably. However, if you hold the Catholic faith to be the Truth, including the promise of Heaven, why would you not tell someone? In a way, this would be an uncharitable act. Hoarding Divine revelation and mercy for yourself. There is nothing wrong with evangelization. “No Christian should desire to convert people of other religions to theirs.” That is exactly what Christ himself calls us to do, it is what Holy Mother Church calls us to do, and it is what we should do. The manner of bringing people to Christ is where we should exercise great care. I agree with Marc also. You should definitely read up on salvation history and the OT. Your understanding seems to be a fairly superficial or a mainstream atheistic outlook on the OT. You clearly have a heart and head open to the existence of God Bill. I don’t know if I, from my not fully informed perspective, would classify you as an atheist. The leaps you think you have to make are not as wide as they seem. God Bless you both!

    18. Thanks Michael. I am kind of an atheist who sees atheism as leading us nowhere. While I think the atheist worldview is true in many respects “the truth shall set you free” does not necessarily apply because much oppression can come from atheist regimes and true freedom seems to go hand-in-hand with the western Judeo-Christian worldview.

      So, I am stuck between espousing what I truly believe or what I truly think we need.

    19. I think it is a misguided desire. No Christian should desire to convert people of other religions to theirs. Most of all Jews. We accept the Jews just the way they are. Muslims I’m not so sure about, but the Pope shows respect for Islam and other faiths and we should too.

      Actually it is right and proper to desire the conversion of all to Christ because that is what Christ desires.
      Firstly, if Jesus is indeed God (which we say He is and He says He is) then everything He does and says is God’s word and God’s will.
      Jesus prayed that all may be one. So He wants everyone to be part of the Church that He established on earth. When you factor in the fact that Christianity is a fulfilment of Judaism and that the Church is in fact, what God has intended all along from the beginning of time, then we should desire what He desires.
      Jesus was very clear about His wishes just before He ascended to the Father – “Go and makes disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.
      Respecting a religion does not mean accepting that their beliefs are true. In fact, it is not the religion that we should respect – after all there are many religions that advocate for the most heinous things so how can you possibly respect that. We respect adherents of these religions because as misguided as they are, they are nonetheless human beings.
      We accept the Jews as they are at the moment, but it is not God’s desire that they remain in that state. Otherwise, He would not have sent His only Son.
      In fact, Jesus commanded His disciples to first preach the good news to the Jews. The first point of proclamation of the Good News was Jerusalem.

    20. There are 3 main possibilities;

      1. All religions are true.
      2. No religions are true.
      3. Only one religion is true.

      1. doesn’t work because they contradict one another.

      2. or 3. are the only realistic possibilities and I have to go with 2.

    21. There are 3 main possibilities;

      1. All religions are true.
      2. No religions are true.
      3. Only one religion is true.

      1. doesn’t work because they contradict one another.

      2. or 3. are the only realistic possibilities and I have to go with 2.

      2 Doesn’t work either. That means God after creating us has left us to wallow in the quagmire of uncertainty and falsehood. That means we are unable to know what is true, which means that we are unable to what is know vis a vis science as well. So the only option that is really left is 3.

    22. That means God after creating us has left us to wallow in the quagmire of uncertainty.

      The human race is not wallowing in a quagmire of uncertainty. God has made the universe intelligible and consistently operating by unchanging laws of nature.

      The problem is religion which tries to gain followers with stories that contradict those laws. It just doesn’t work that way.

    23. The human race is not wallowing in a quagmire of uncertainty. God has made the universe intelligible

      Precisely! Therefore option 2 is out of the question.

    24. When I say no religion is true, I mean 100% true. I accept that the main belief of Judaism, Christianity and Islam of a creator God could be true. But their religions have too many things to believe and obey.

    25. When I say no religion is true, I mean 100% true. I accept that the main belief of Judaism, Christianity and Islam of a creator God could be true. But their religions have too many things to believe and obey.

      But if no religion is 100% true, then you are back at point 1.
      Besides, it is getting clearer that your issue is not truth but obedience. You want to make your own rules and one of this rules is that you decide which rules are true vis a vis religion.

      Besides, this very statement says that you have made yourself the arbiter of truth by declaring that certain tenets of Christianity, Judaism and Islam could be true.

    26. Everyone should develop their own world view and not just accept everything their religion tells them. Especially arbitrary rules.

    27. Everyone should develop their own world view

      Regardless of whether it is right, wrong or indifferent? Regardless of whether it is true or false?

      and not just accept everything their religion tells them.

      And not just reject everything a certain religion teaches them all because of some chip on the shoulder. Neither should one reject such teachings especially when one does not even understand the teaching in full.
      You reject things for the sake of rejecting them.

      Especially arbitrary rules.

      IF they are indeed arbitrary. But you don’t know that. You ASSUME that. You operate on so many unfounded assumptions and you are quite content to live your life just going by assumptions.

    28. Obeying the rules of the Roman Catholic Church is not on the table for discussion. Since most of my own rules for how to live are pretty similar to most of the Catholic rules that should not be as big a problem as you will probably make it out to be. The Church has some doosies though and they are discussed often on thes blogs. For example, I would never consider following the Church’s teaching on contraception or gay marriage.

    29. Obeying the rules of the Roman Catholic Church is not on the table for discussion. Since most of my own rules for how to live are pretty similar to most of the Catholic rules that should not be as big a problem as you will probably make it out to be.

      Which still makes you the moral arbiter of everything – hence God.

      For example, I would never consider following the Church’s teaching on contraception or gay marriage.

      Too bad for you because they are the very solid moral teachings. Gay marriage is a stupidity. Every single argument for gay marriage has been debunked. And the Church’s teaching on contraception has been vindicated.

    30. If you tried to talk me out of atheism to lay this bs on me, you are wasting your time. I should have known you were up to no good 🙂

    31. For example, I would never consider following the Church’s teaching on contraception or gay marriage.

      Firstly, I did not talk you out atheism. I simply showed you why it is a bankrupt world view and using your own intellectual powers, you came to the conclusions that hey it is indeed a bankrupt worldview. If you want to go back to a bankrupt world view in defiance of your own intellectual conclusions, you are free to do so.

      Secondly, what I have outlined above is the natural logical projection of the bankrupt atheistic worldview. You just have not connected the dots yet. But you will.

    32. The problem is religion which tries to gain followers with stories that contradict those laws. It just doesn’t work that way.

      Only because you ASSUME that God cannot and will not suspend those laws.
      You also ASSUME that the physical laws are all there is. What if the physical laws bend to higher spiritual laws?
      For example, in programming you have an IF/THEN/ELSE.
      What if the suspension of those laws follow precisely that IF/THEN/ELSE. If certain conditions are met then laws are suspended and it is all part of God’s grand plan.

      You have this idea that somehow God is boxed in by the laws He has created. He is the master of the laws. He can do as he pleases.

    33. The stories that the Catholic Church would have us believe actually make the laws of nature arbitrary and unreliable. We rely on the laws of nature being consistent when we take a flight in a jetliner. What if the laws of gravity or fluid dymamics were suspended for some arbitrary reason by a capricious creator?

    34. The stories that the Catholic Church would have us believe actually make the laws of nature arbitrary and unreliable.

      No it doesn’t. They are reliable but not fixed. God can suspend it whenever he wants. Same with everything. We all die. Some live longer, others don’t.

      We rely on the laws of nature being consistent when we take a flight in a jetliner. What if the laws of gravity or fluid dymamics were suspended for some arbitrary reason by a capricious creator?

      AAAh, so there it is out at last. You think that if God should suspend the law, it would be out of caprice, maybe even out of malice.
      You have a long way to go to understand who God is.
      Let me give you an example. The law of washing machines say that it should keep going so long as the water is on and the electricity is on. But suppose a new born baby fell into the washing machine. Should we just keep the washing machine going for the sake of the law of the washing machine?
      You are so fixated on your own RULES that you don’t realize that you are boxing God all because you want to be certain of things.
      If I am a programmer, I very well have the right to suspend the program if doing so is for the good.

    35. There is no inviolable law of washing machines. The laws of nature cannot be suspended any time they don’t suit us and we pray to God to overlook the law just this one time. It doesn’t work that way.

    36. For example, I would never consider following the Church’s teaching on contraception or gay marriage.

      Definitely the law of nature cannot be suspended to suit us. But the law of nature can be suspended by the maker of the law of nature to suit HIM. HE decides.
      And yes, it does work that way.

    37. Unless you are saying that many Catholics misrepresent the faith and we need to listen to the Church. I get that

      Unfortunately, that is the sad truth. Many Catholics (themselves not properly evangelized) can give a wrong image of God which can vary from Santa Clause to the Stern Judge.

    38. There is an old saying: if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

      Only in terms of temporal things, but not when it comes to God. The very fine balance of elements at the Big bang would make this world too good to be true. Yet here we are.

      That is what I think about inspirational articles like this one.

      Only if you have not experienced God. For one who has experience God and who has a very intimate relationsip with God, this would be like “I know, I know, so tell me something new”.

      When I sit back and think about what I really need in this life, it would be for the God that is described in articles like this as well as in the teachings of the Church to not be made up, but real.

      And God is precisely the God made out in this article. But unless you subject your intellect in humility to Him you will never know that. It is not for no reason that Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is revealed to children.
      A childlike humility and trust opens up our souls to the revelation of God. It is not only with our intellect that we apprehend things. A purely intellectual knowing of God will leave one dry. God will forever remain a concept that one twirls around in one’s head. But to the one who has abandoned his/her being to the God of all creation, to him is given this profound insight that goes beyond mental knowledge – it is a knowledge that goes deep into your being that cannot be shaken no matter what the outside world presents. One then enters into the most intimate relationship possible this side of eternity.

      But my problem is that our concept of God has evolved and developed to suit our needs.

      This is very incorrect. A god who has evolved to suit our needs is no god at all. That god is our own creation – a mere projection of our needs and our neuroses. There are plenty such gods then and now.
      If there is a God (and you conceded that there is) then we apprehend this God based on His own revelation. By our own efforts we cannot understand Him. He has to reveal Himself. Without this self-revealtion, then everything is just conjecture and all we are left with is a god of our own making – a creature that is meant to satisfy our neuroses.

      T here is something truly amazing though. First, the Jews came up with a concept of a god who existed when nothing else did and then brought everything into existence in a very short time span. That sounds a lot like the Big Bang. For years we thought this universe always existed. So the idea of it having a beginning, a genesis, made for a good fairy tale,

      How can it be a fairy tale when it is true? And no, from the beginning people have always thought that the universe had a beginning, which is why all societies have some sort of creation story or another.

      Now we know that everything did come from nothing.

      Therefore Genesis is not a fairy tale but a telling of creation in poetic terms.

      There had to be a purpose for a man ultimately accepted as God to be just what the world needed

      Indeed, there is a purpose. One word – Salvation. Two words – the restoration of the covenant.

      And doesn’t it seem way to convenient for us that we could be healed of our worst inadequacies by believing and spreading that belief.

      No, we don’t get healed of our worst inadequacies by believing and spreading that belief. If it is just belief without any truth at all, at best it is a placebo at worst it is meant to plunge us into darkest despair.
      That we are indeed healed of our sins and our failings is because it is all real – Jesus is indeed God and He really did come precisely for this – to forgive us our sins and free us for the enjoyment of the fullness of life.

      And after he left us, what are the chances that he would send a Helper, the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us? And also, a Church was established and has become one the most important resources and sanctuaries ever known to exist. What are the chances of all this being true? It seems to good to be real.
      And yet it is real. If God were just another creature, if Jesus was just another guru among many, then yes, this is much too good to be true. But the fact that these are all real, these all happened, is the proof that Jesus is indeed God and that He came precisely for the reason stated in John 3 – because God so loved the world.

  6. This is very good and reminds me of a friend who was never able to say “thy will be done’
    because she suffered so much and never felt consoled by God. As it happened, she was
    awaiting an operation that had only a 5% chance of saving her with the likely hood of her
    not even surviving the procedure, when she encounted a nurse in the pre-op room who
    asked her to pray the Our Father with her. She did, and upon coming to those words she
    repeated them for the first time in her life. Later on, the hospital told her that there was no
    such person in the OR who fit the description. That was 30 years ago and today her
    understanding of how God works is complete and she is at peace with those dark days.
    Thanks for the insight.

    1. I don’t how many of us are blessed with such events, but I think we all get to that point where we have no where else to look but to God. Almost like a fork in the road, we can choose to trust God or not. The Our Father is such a curious prayer. We say it so often, Catholic and Protestant, but I wonder how many of us really think of those words and what they mean while we say them. God Bless!

  7. Dear Michael -This is insightful-and applies to parents. Often for a Mom or Dad “frustration in prayer” is not about pain or suffering that the Mom or Dad is personally going thru, but the pain associated with a child who is hurt or suffering or going the wrong way – and then it is even more difficult to discern God’s love in chastisement. Mom’s and Dad’s are used to fixing the booboo right now, and faith and hope for a child is often not accompanied with patience. The prayer you end with reminds one of St Monica, a Mom, and how she was God’s tool to bring her son Augustine back to Him. Thank you for this encouraging writing. Guy McClung San Antonio

    1. Thanks for your kind words. Always good to hear from a fellow Texan. Parents bear a heavy burden indeed. The balance between direct action and patient trust is always a hard one to strike. This is even harder when all a parent can do is observe their child suffering and pray. Obviously, we do not anyone to suffer. We want everyone to live happy, full lives without suffering. But, teaching our children how to accept suffering and pray while suffering is one of the most important lessons we can pass on. Children will suffer. Teaching them to avoid it, pretend it isn’t happening, or making the suffering disappear without the child facing it will, in the end, do a great disservice and harm to the child. A day will come when mom and dad are gone, and the child will be forced to face the world without the protective parental shadow. Better to give them guidance and a safety net while you are here and teach them how to turn to God and trust Him. God bless!

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