Learning the ABCs of Prayer

Watching the children in pre-kindergarten learn about the alphabet made me recall a little parable on prayer. 

A Jewish farmer was not able to return home before sunset one Sabbath and so was forced to spend the night in the field.  Upon his return home he was met by a rather perturbed rabbi who chided him for his carelessness. "What did you do out there all night in the field?" the rabbi asked him. "Did you at least pray?" The farmer answered: "Rabbi, I am not a clever man. I don't know how to pray properly. What I did was to simply recite the alphabet all night and let God form the words for himself."

Anyone who has made a serious stab at mental prayer knows of prayer's difficulties. Our minds go blank or, worse yet, become filled with distractions.  A time comes when we do not feel anything.  Prayer becomes dry.  We are left in the situation of the rabbi, merely offering to God our basic love for him and letting him formulate the rest. 

This is not a bad thing, letting God pray for us.  In fact, this should be our recourse when prayer is difficult.  Instead of giving up on prayer, we should be faithful to it and let God do the "work." Fulton Sheen once said that if he fell asleep praying the rosary, his guardian angel would finish it for him. 

We should also invoke the Blessed Mother to do the praying for us.  The way the kindergarten teacher helps the child glue the proper letters on the construction paper, or how the mother arranges the letter-magnets on the refrigerator to spell the phrase correctly, Mary crafts our disconnected thoughts and sentiments into a beautiful bouquet of love to the Father.

back to top