This is part of a talk on prayer given (with humour) by the Medjugorje Franciscan priest, Fr Danko Perutina, during a retreat in London earlier this year. Fr Danko also writes the monthly commentary for Our Lady’s message given to the world via the visionary Maria.
• Everyone is an expert on prayer; everyone has his or her own prayer. That person says prayer at a certain time, using the same words and no one is to disturb him at that time, otherwise that person will get annoyed.
There are millions of prayers to be said. I will just mention 500,000!
There is contemplative prayer, prayer of meditation, prayer with reason, prayer with words, prayer in silence and prayer with the heart. There are really millions of prayers! Prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of asking, prayers for healing, prayers for blessing, prayers for perseverance, prayers you say that your husband will be converted, or maybe that your wife will be converted. Really, we can pray for everything.
What is important when it comes to prayer? For me, the best prayer consists of few points. Some people compare this with how one uses a telephone, because you dial a number and then a person answers.
• The first step is to come close to God, in his presence.
• The second step is to admit your sins.
• The third step is to forgive everyone.
• The fourth step is to renounce all sins.
• The fifth step is to accept your cross.
• The sixth step is to accept the Holy Spirit because once we renounce sin, we are empty and have to be filled with something.
• The seventh step is to say to God, thank you.
You have dialled the numbers 1-7 and that’s what we call telephone prayer. Try this prayer; you will be changed in a day. Really, you will be.
You know that at this retreat we have been saying the prayers already, but I didn’t mention to you. Why is this prayer important? Because it contains all the important elements.
The most important part of this prayer is the presence of God. That is the most difficult thing. We say “where is God?” Then we start imagining Him. I always share this with pilgrims to Medjugorje, the way people imagine God.
When Jesus was crucified and buried he was 33 years old. We don’t know how old the Holy Spirit is. If Jesus was 33 then the Father must be around 70. He has a long white beard, and sits on a throne. He sees everything and knows everything. There is thunder and lightening below. Even if you do something in the dark he is able to see that. He can’t really see everything, because there are six and a half billion people living here, so he gave a guardian angel to every person and that angel is working on a computer. Once you make a mistake he records that. When the last moment of your life comes he will just press the “enter” and “print” button and all your sins will be on one piece of paper. It is not going to be just one sheet.
But it’s not going to be like that, because God is a God who forgives. There is nothing so beautiful as to know that someone loves you all the time, and that’s the way God loves us, without any conditions.
Some people think in this way: if we are good then God must be good; if we commit sins, straightaway he gets angry. That is not God. That is the image of God we use, and that’s often why people pray to images of God, the way they imagine Him. That is only an image, that is not God, God who is revealed to us in Jesus Christ.
The only way we can explain God, is Love. All the other images are wrong. And if you do not see God as Love you make problems for yourself because God is Love himself. He is not a judge; he is not the one who punishes, the one who is angry. That’s not God, that’s an image of our making.
That’s why, when you start praying, those few seconds at the beginning are really important, and that’s faith. Whenever I come to prayer I make the sign of the cross and say: “I know, Jesus, that you are here. Jesus, I know that you love me, and now I am going to speak to you of all that is in my heart.”
I don’t have to imagine him, if he is tall or short, fat or thin; or wonder if he made windows or chairs as a carpenter.
Our Lady has been inviting us to prayer with the heart. It’s the prayer of offering what is there in our heart and presenting it to God. It is not new. The more sincere we are, the deeper the prayer. We are purifying ourselves and so become more of what God want us to be, restored in his image, but not a photocopy. God created everyone special and unique.
Prayer is the law of life. The more we pray, the more God opens all the doors for us. But there may be times, if necessary, when the door will closed so that we are not able to enter, because in God’s wisdom this is better for us. That’s why we always have to look for the will of God.