Prayer as receiving

Benedict Sheehan is a choir director who blogs about the trials and joys of leading and participating in a choir in The Music Stand.

In a recent post (, he wrote “based on the advice of some people more experienced in prayer than I am, I’ve come to the following conclusion: prayer is not so much something we do as something we receive.”

I know that I often feel like prayer is like trying to get the notice of God and a response to the newest urgent need that has been shared with me.  But Mr. Sheehan flips that idea upside down and suggests that prayer is a mechanism to receive whatever we need. By being open and inviting God to enter our hearts we are taught,  healed, and strengthened, which leads us into praise and gratitude.

 I had read that the Sufis have the same concept. Knowing that fallen humanity experiences a gap between God and us, they ask God to bridge it and wait expectantly and confidently that God will come, and because He IS wisdom, healing, grace, and strength, all that we need at the moment is poured upon us.  The challenge is being open to receive rather than thinking that our job is to awaken God and convince him that something must be done.

I find it so much more peaceful to rest and gaze on an icon, a candle, or other object that reminds me that Jesus is present always and everywhere, attending to us with deep caring, than “knock-knock-knocking on heaven’s door”.

As we let him enter more deeply into our hearts and minds and the core of who we are, we find the unique blessings and grace that we need to carry the burdens and joys of the day. The next time we hear “let us pray”, may we hear the invitation to allow him into our hearts to bless us with salvation and the peace that passes all understanding.