At the recent Christian Life program (BCLP No.1) held at Four Points Hotel, Sheraton Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, which concluded, after four March weekend days, going all day usually from 9 to 5 or 6 pm, I was given the task to speak on “Growing in a relationship with the Lord.”

This I did, and I used two sources for the talk: the book “Opening to God, A Guide to Prayer,” by Thomas H. Green, SJ, whom I knew when he was still a young Jesuit scholastic in the old Ateneo de Cagayan, circa 1959, now Xavier University, in the city of Cagayan de Oro; and the book “Praying the Psalms,” by Thomas Merton, who of course is one of my favorite spiritual writers, and considered by many, including Pope Francis, as one worthy of our attention.

Well, the BCBP Talk outline said to emphasize the following:

That a BCBP Christian Life Program graduate must practice the following as conditions for growth, namely:

1. Prayer
2. Study
3. Service to the community and the Church, or the “people of God.”

With regards to prayer, I quoted the following words from Fr.Green:

“…the desire to pray is itself a clear sign of the Lord’s presence. We cannot reach out to him unless he first draws us.”

“…to pray is not to withdraw from our daily concerns into some ethereal world. The religious person, in the true sense, is not someone who is out of touch with reality. Rather, a good prayer means bringing our real concerns and responsibilities before the Lord and learning to hear what he has to say about them.”

Desire to pray, therefore, and learning to listen to what the Lord has to say to us about our concerns, are important elements, and with God’s help, and his grace, can be learned by us.

And listening to an invisible God, of course, is hard to do. Like the two babies in the womb of their mother, though enveloped in her womb, had difficulty imagining the invisible “mother,” in whose “environment,” amniotically fluid it may be, the twin babies were in, swimmingly so and kept into existence by the mother. (See the “two babies in their mother’s womb,” blog post, on this “bcbpohio” blog, by me.

The other point I would like to bring out here is how do we discover God in our prayers?

I am quoting Thomas Merton’s booklet, “Praying the Psalms,” to help us on this score.

No need to invent the wheel again when it come to this, because, as we can see from the words of Merton, the psalm prayers can help us in this work of discovery..

“ In the Psalms, we drink divine praise at its pure and stainless source, in all its primitive sincerity and perfection. We return to the youthful strenght and directness with which the ancient psalmists voiced their adoration of the God of Israel.

…their adoration was intensified by the ineffable accents of new discovery: for the psalms are the songs of men who Knew who God was.”

…if we are to pray well, we too must discover the Lord to whom we speak, and if we use the psalms in our prayer we will stand a better chance of sharing in the discovery which lies hidden in the words for all generations. For God has willed to make himself known to us in the mystery of the Psalms.”