How We Talk to God

Hattip to Dale Price for the above picture.


Yeah, too often God is treated like a Giant Genie who will give us whatever we want if we just rub his lamp the right way.  Well, how should we then pray?  Fortunately, God gave us an example:


Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread;and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

In this miracle, of course, of concision, Christ contains the whole Gospel, and shows us how we should pray.

Prayer of PraiseOur Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.   The praise of course is not for the benefit of God but for our benefit.  It is our reminder that we are children of a loving God who is also omnipotent.

Prayer of Awe:   Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.  The best example of such a prayer is when Job responds to God after God tells him about Himself:

“I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:  2-6

A prayer of awe can be quite a powerful experience.  I have personally experienced its power when I have contemplated God as Creator and the fact that everything that exists is a direct product of the will of God.   Looking up at the stars and contemplating infinity brings me into a state where I feel amazingly close to the God who created it all.

Prayer of Petition:  There is nothing wrong with a prayer of petition any more than there is something wrong with a young child asking a father for help.  We fall into serious error however when we assume that God must grant such petitions whenever we pray them.  Saint James captures the spirit of such prayer well:

[3] You ask, and receive not; because you ask amiss: that you may consume it on your concupiscences.

Epistle of James: 4: 3.

A good addition to any prayer of petition is:  if consistent with Thy will.  As Abraham Lincoln truly noted:  The Almighty has His own purposes.  The purpose of prayer is always to draw us closer to our God.  If it does not, the fault is always ours and never His.

Prayer of Forgiveness:  and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Most certainly the most underutilized prayer is these degenerate times.  We sin, whether or not we acknowledge that sad fact of our fallen humanity, and we need to ask God for forgiveness.  Much harder of course is attempting to imitate God and forgive those who sin against us.  A hard teaching and an essential one:


[21] Then came Peter unto him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? [22] Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times. [23] Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. [24] And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents. [25] And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

[26] But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. [27] And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go and forgave him the debt. [28] But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying hold of him, throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. [29] And his fellow servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. [30] And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt.

31] Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came and told their lord all that was done. [32] Then his lord called him; and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: [33] Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? [34] And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. [35] So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

Matthew: 18: 21-35

Prayer for Salvation:  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.    The late comedian Jackie Gleason, when asked his religion, would always say “Bad Catholic”.  He was once asked by a Paulist priest to appear on his  television program and talk about religion which he did, stating to the priest that Catholicism was strong enough to withstand an advocate even as bad as he was.  He once stunned the audience of a light-hearted talk show in the Seventies by responding to the question what he wanted more than anything else by saying “Eternal Salvation”. The host was taken aback by this and asked him, “Really?” Gleason said he couldn’t understand anyone wanting anything more than that. Gleason and some of the Ten Commandments were not on friendly terms during his life, to say the least, but he received the Last Rites on his deathbed, and I am sure he got what he wanted more than anything else.  And that happy end is precisely what we should all pray for unceasingly.



Rocky:  You’re asking me to pull an act, turn yellow
so those kids will think I’m no-good?
You’re asking me to throw away the only
thing I got left that they can’t take away.
To give those newspapers a chance to say,
“Another rat turned yellow.”
Father Jerry:  You and I will know you’re not.
Rocky:  You ask a nice little favor, Jerry.
Asking me to crawl on my belly
the last thing I do.
Father Jerry:  I know what I’m asking.
The reason I’m asking is because
being kids together gave me the idea…
…that you might like to
join hands with me…
…and save some of those other boys
from ending up here.
Rocky:  You’re asking too much.
You wanna help those kids…
…figure out some other way.
Father Jerry:   It’s impossible to do it without your help.
I can’t reach all of those boys.
Thousands of hero-worshiping kids
all over the country.
Rocky:  Don’t give me that humanity stuff again.
I had enough in the courtroom.
Told everything. Named names.
Told the whole mess.
What more do you want?
Father Jerry:  What I’ve always wanted, Rocky.
Straighten yourself out with God.
Outside of that,
I can’t ask for anything else.
Rocky:  Well, don’t!
Warden:  It’s time, Rocky. Are you ready?
Rocky:  Yeah.
You figure on going in with me?
Father Jerry:  I’d like to, Rocky. That is, if…
Warden:   You can if you wish. Do you mind, Father?
Father Jerry:  Certainly not.
Rocky:  That’s better. Be kind of lonesome
going down that last mile.
Promise me something.
Promise me you won’t let me
hear you pray.
Father Jerry:  I promise you won’t hear me.

Screenplay, Angels With Dirty Faces

More to explorer


  1. One of many things the current Pope is wrong about. The phrase makes perfect sense as to temptation. A good Christian wants to avoid temptation as much as possible. However, the events of life can put temptation, unbidden by us, squarely in our path. (Don, a former Miss Illinois wants you to represent her in her sexual harassment case.) We ask God to spare us from that happening, but if it does we then ask God to deliver us from evil that could result due to the lure of sin and our weakness and folly. The passage strongly reminds us of how much of our lives are determined by God, an unpopular notion to contemporary minds, including the minds of many Christians, but true nonetheless.

  2. “The passage strongly reminds us of how much of our lives are determined by God”

    I hate to say it, but I get the feeling that the change being made is because, not despite, this fact.

  3. About a month or so ago I got into a conversation with a Pentecostal preacher “boy” in t-shirt and jeans wherein he and his wife criticized the Catholic use of the Rosary as needless repetitious prayer. I then mentioned the very thing pointed out in the meme at the top of this post – how Evangelicals and Pentecostals often pray, babbling about “Father God this….Lord Jesus that….Father God the other thing…Lords Jesus help….etc.” And I cited Matthew 6:7-8 which directly precedes the Lord’s Prayer in verses 9-13.

    “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

    Finally, I explained the Biblical basis of the Hail Mary, and explained how when I lost everything in 2007 and was about to turn back to drinking and drugging, praying my Rosary saved my sorry behind. Needless to say, the preacher boy and his wife shut their traps. He got so upset with me that he said he didn’t want to turn Facebook into a theology debate. Ha! Maybe if he actually knew theology (instead of that rock’n roll Jesus is my buddy crap and how to use Power Point in place of sermons) and some Church history (the prayer goes back a thousand years before his man-made denomination got established in the early 1900s from disaffected Methodists), he might have been able to debate.

    PS, most of my Pentecostal friends and family members are not that way. But this one and myself were friends in our youths (I was raised Pentecostal) and he became a Pentecostal pastor whereas I left for the “dreaded” Catholic Church. So that meme posted above started a little firestorm. 😀

  4. There is no topic more apt for a man to clearly show himself a fool than to expound on “his knowledge” (a bitter “Ha!”) of prayer and how God works with us. Here goes:

    St. Teresa of Avila takes up a commentary on the Our Father in the last part of The Way of Perfection (Ch. 32-on), in particular, “Fiat voluntas tua:”

    “Would you like to see how He treats those who make this prayer from their hearts? Ask his glorious Son who made it thus in the Garden. And consider if the will of God was not perfectly fulfilled in Him through the trials,sufferings, insults and persecutions which He gave Him until at last His life ended with death on a cross.”

    “…These then are His gifts to us in this world. He gives them in proportion to the love which He bears us. He gives more to those He loves most, and less to those He loves least. “

    “May the Lord fulfill His will in me in every way or manner that thou, O Lord, desirest. If thou wilt do so by means of trials, give me strength and let them come. If by means of persecutions and sickness and dishonor and need, O Father, here I am…”

  5. “…as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
    This is a hard one. It’s difficult to determine if we have forgiven a
    person who has seriously wronged us. My wife of 27 years recently divorced me to be with her affair partner after ruining our finances with secret credit card debt. We have eight kids, and it’s been hard on them. I have prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for her, prayed rosaries for her, and I have not once berated her or yelled at her over this. She has done a horrible thing to me, especially under no-fault divorce. She has been spreading lies about me to try to make me out to be the bad guy, as if anything I supposedly did would justify adultery. I did not try to drag out divorce proceedings, choosing a rational settlement without attorneys that was better for both of us than going the route an attorney I consulted suggested would be mandated at a trial, provided she somehow gains a sense of financial responsibility at some point. I am angry. What does forgiveness look like in the face of such a thing? I talked to a priest about it who pointed out that even Jesus got angry. Jimmy Akin points out in this article, cites Aquinas, “But if one is angry in accordance with right reason, one’s anger is deserving of praise.” But I must still confess an ignorance of what forgiveness means in the face of someone ruining your life, with lies that go back decades and incidents that in retrospect were harbingers of greater betrayals down the road, as I tried to live my marriage vocation as God intended, and put everything I had into it. Akin also cits JPII in Dives in Miserecordia, that there are conditions for forgiveness. But reading it, and living it are two different things. I went to Army medic school and passed at the top of my class, but that did nothing to prepare me for a patient screaming in pain. I can read the Catechism and Aquinas, and JPII’s encyclicals, but when encountering this sort of betrayal, my reason fails me. I can do things I have been taught, but is that enough? It seems like only a shadow forgiveness compared to that we receive from God, and so when I ask “Forgives us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I am concerned that I can’t forgive in the same manner as God.

  6. “… when I ask ‘Forgives us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,’ I am concerned that I can’t forgive in the same manner as God.”

    No one can except God. It seems to me you are trying your best and with better success than I had when I went through a similar thing.

  7. Forgiveness is very difficult when the offense is ongoing. As LQC notes, we do the best we can. I think God is usually more concerned with a sincere effort to follow His commands in very trying circumstances than he is with success or failure. My prayers for you and your kids. It is a dreadful situation and all too common currently.

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