There seems to be a wonderful, though seldom realized, potentiality in us to be a cause for the effects for which we pray. And, correspondingly, there is in us an even more tangible potentiality to be an obstacle or counter-force to the things for which we pray.
We so easily become entrenched in a unilateral stance toward prayers of petition: I ask, You answer. Seldom do we consider ourselves an integral part of the answer we seek. Seldom too do we consider the possibility that we may be the barrier preventing You from granting what we seek. Father Mark Thibodeuax writes eloquently of how much we get in Your way. If we could only master the art of getting out of Your way and letting You act, God’s will, not ours, would be more often done in our lives. I pray that relationships may be strengthened and nurtured, but I’m often the “problem:” in those relationships. I pray that the physically and emotionally sick be made well, but I may be a prime contributor to their sickness. I pray for the success of missions and ministries to the poor, but the way I live may add to the poverty of others. I pray that You touch people’s hearts and draw them to Yourself, but I do not readily open myself to be Your channel for such work. Maybe my prayers for the dead are the only ones in which I can’t get in Your way, and maybe they’re needed because, at some point, I did get in Your way.
It often seems clear to me that it would be wise to petition for the ability to be an open channel of Your love and, in doing so, to stay out of Your way.