One of the ways to know God’s will for our lives is to pray. St. Claude de la Columbière, a seventeenth century Jesuit priest, reminded us that Christ promised that he would give us everything we need, even the smallest things. He shared these other reflections on how to pray for God’s will for our lives:
- We can pray to obtain what we want. We are not prohibited from praying for money and position in life, but, like Solomon, we must pray for things in their proper order.
- We can pray to be delivered from evil; however, we are reminded that even what we call “evil” comes to us from God with a purpose. For example, poverty of materials or of the spirit can increase our dependence on God. If we suffered these things would we seek out God much more than we do? What benefit would that be for our sanctification?
- We can pray to accept all of God’s gifts as blessing. For example, we can pray, “either give me so much money that my heart will be satisfied, or inspire me with such contempt for it that I no longer want it.”
When we cooperate with God we are exercising his great gift of free will. With the angels, people journey to the ultimate destination of perfection by free choice and by loving God and others. Because this choice is free, the possibility of going astray and committing moral evil exists. God is not the cause of moral evil but he does permit it because he respects our freedom and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from evil.
As the Catechism explains:
Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face,” will we fully know the ways by which—even through the dramas of evil and sin—God has guided his creation to that definitive Sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth (CCC, 314).
In the meantime, we continue to delve deeper in prayer to discover more about ourselves and about God. Discernment is a process that helps us to make good choices in line with God’s will.
Invite your students to create a prayer service based on St. Claude’s suggestions.
- Direct them to begin with a request for something they want: To become more patient with my parents,
- Then a request for deliverance from evil: to refuse to complain even when I feel they’re being unfair,
- Finally, a prayer to accept all as blessing: and to recognize that the decisions they make are made out of love for me, let us pray . . .
Have the students write out their petitions.
When they have completed their writing, gather the students around a lighted candle. Tell them that the response to each prayer petition is “Thy will be done.” For example:
To become more patient with my parents, to refuse to complain even when I feel they’re being unfair, and to recognize that the decisions they make are made out of love for me, O, Lord, we pray . . .
All: Thy will be done.
Invite the students offer their petitions one at a time. Conclude by praying the Lord’s Prayer.