Hardships are a part of life. If you had a hardship free 2022, consider yourself extremely blessed. Some of us dealt with some unfortunate circumstances – some worse than others – but we learn to deal with them as we go.
Some of us pray to God in heaven, while others rely on our actions.
Those of us who pray to God to heal us, to help us find work or retain work, who ask him for protection for our family and friends, are not always willing to give up anything in return. We only desire Him to follow our orders and do as we ask.
I’ve witnessed many big and small miracles, and I cannot state strongly enough that God is not a Santa Claus.
Would we ask a stranger to babysit our baby? Would we confide our most intimate secrets to someone we’ve never met? Would we cry on a stranger’s shoulder? We could answer yes or no to all these questions, but most of us would likely answer no because, to most humans, trust is an essential element in a relationship. What do we need to develop trust in someone? I would say to know the person better. What would you say?
The next question is: Is He willing to do what we ask? The answer is yes, with an asterisk*.
Praying is not asking for whatever you want to be done to a God you cannot see. A God you do not know. If you believe in Jesus Christ but don’t know much about Him, I humbly offer seven steps to help you connect with Him.
1. Read the gospels. The gospels not only tell the story of Jesus, but they contain quotes, His direct message to you. Pay attention.
2. Be honest with yourself. Imagine standing in front of Him, knowing He knows all your secrets—even the darkest thoughts and actions. Then see if anything he said applies to your actions. Let Him speak to you. Jesus tells us:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew, Chapter 11, Verses 28 to 30.
3. Thank Him every day for everything that you have and all you don’t have. Sometimes what we don’t have makes us better, even if it is problematic to understand. When you go shopping, for example, and see things you already have in your home, thank Him from the bottom of your heart. Before you know it, you will realize that you don’t need anything! Thank Him for the hot water in your shower, comfortable bed, and air conditioning. If you do not have these things, thank Him for the circumstance that is making you stronger and drawing you closer to Him.
Thank Him every time you sit down to eat. You can do this in silence. There is no need for anybody else to know you are praying. This is between you and Him. The more you thank Him, the more you will love Him.
4. Search legitimate sources online that can teach you about scripture. Look for those that answer questions you might have. The more you ask, the faster you’ll connect with Him. Since the pandemic, multiple resources have become available. For us Catholics, there are so many charismatic priests online that make learning enjoyable. I am confident the same applies to other traditions.
5. Attend mass or services. If you make time for friends, work, and entertainment, you can visit God at his earthly home. Churches are places of worship where people pray together. You can plan to attend a mass or service or stop by on your own. Some Catholic churches are open daily. Visit, and you will feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew, Chapter 18, Verse 20.
6. Have an image of Jesus Christ at home. This is more of a Catholic practice, but it has been an incredible tool for me. I have a small hand-painted image of Jesus on my bedroom wall. I talk to it and look at it in the morning when I wake up and whisper, “thank you.” A great time to thank Him for another day, for family and friends, and for all the beautiful blessings He bestows upon us. I am surprised at Christians who do not display the nativity at home during Christmas. Christmas should not be all about Santa Claus. Like some bumper stickers state, Jesus is the reason for the season. But once you know Him, Christmas will have a completely different meaning.
7. Pray to God and ask Him to reveal His beloved son to you. With an open heart, be calm and listen to what your mind and spirit are feeling. Before long, you will want to pray all the time for the joy and peace that comes with His presence is like nothing else in this world.
“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father, who is unseen.” Matthew, Chapter 6, Verses 5 to 7.
Now about that asterisk above. What does it mean? As diminutive dust particle creatures, we cannot know what is best for us. We have serious doubts about the afterlife and are incapable of foreseeing the future. Therefore, God not always does as we ask. We must be humble when asking and affirm, “If it is God’s will. It will be granted.” Please, whatever you do, never be resentful because your “wish” was not granted. Please realize we are petty humans and trust in His will. I will end this post with a bible verse that is always present in my mind when planning trips, work, and life.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah, Chapter 55, Verses 8 to 9.