The Inside Story,
a reflection by Joel Kibler
In the depths of each of us is a quiet, powerful movement toward God. God designed us this way, and he hopes we will reach out to him and come to know and love him. For this knowing and loving to grow each daughter and son of God needs time alone with God. We have to withdraw from our busy external life with others so to have this internal, personal life with God. Psalm 57:8, says, “Awake, Awake, my soul!” We need awaken to God and connect with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This awakening to God is increasingly vital, because we easily forget God in today’s culture. I’ve done a lot of airline travel in my life. I get on a plane, take my seat, then page through the airline’s magazine. They have colorful photos and brief articles about places to go, things to see and do, and objects to buy for business and home. Only once did I ever see a reference to God. Airline magazines are a miniature of American media—silent about God. The psalmist rightly exclaims: Awake, my soul!” Each of us needs to awaken ourselves to God. A time-tested, centuries-tested way to do this is through prayer that is personal.
I began the habit of private, personal prayer during my junior year in college at Notre Dame. I started to spend ten minutes a day with God, and gradually increased the time. These get togethers with God gradually changed me. My atheist roommate pointed this out to me one Saturday night during a party in our dorm room. Steve and his girlfriend, Sue, were sitting on our $4 sofa and I sat in a chair across from them. Steve turned to her and said, “Did you know Joel prays?” I looked at Steve puzzled. He ignored me and said, “Seriously, he prays. In fact, I can tell you the days when he doesn’t pray. He’s harder to live with.”
It’s a struggle to carve out a few minutes each day with God. Many of my friends, once they decide to have daily private prayer, start this habit. They set their alarm to awaken them 15 minutes earlier than was customary. They brew coffee as usual, then, cup in hand, sit in their favorite chair and have a conversation with God. The style and content of the conversation varies, of course, from person to person. After all, each of us is unique, and God loves our uniqueness.
A method of prayer is always helpful. Here’s a simple one. Begin by saying to God, “Here we are, just the two of us, alone. It’s good to be here. I’m glad you are in my life.” Then tell God what you are thankful for. Follow that with what you are sorry about. Then, speak to God about what’s on your mind for the day ahead. Finally, read a short passage from the Bible or from a good spiritual book and think about it. Sit there in silence. Pay attention to the thoughts that come to you. These may be God’s word to you. Then close with intercessory prayer and the Our Father.
God wants each of us to shine in the world, each in our unique way. This is how he changes the world. Through our free decision to have a habit of prayer, God, ever the respecter of our freedom, unites himself to us. He lives more and more in us, and we live more and more in him. The result: we have more courage and energy to love, more clarity and insight into what love looks like in the moment, and more joy and peace and calm. Then the part of the world that depends on us is a better place.
One last thing. The One God is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On any day we can speak to any one of the Persons. It is good to do so, to address God as Father, or Jesus, or Holy Spirit. This makes private prayer more personal. It is especially good to pray to Jesus. St. Paul says that “He is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Through Jesus’ personality and character we see what God is truly like—meek and humble, kind and good. We discover that having God in our lives makes us glad. To help us with on-going gladness, Jesus offers this wonderful piece of advice: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). Ask Jesus and the Father to make their home inside you. Both you and God will be glad.