Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have said, in so many words and in their own unique style, that the problem is not that God has not fully revealed himself to man but rather that He has revealed too much and it is too difficult for us to comprehend. It is difficult to understand how the Creator could be held by His creation. It is difficult to reckon how God could take on human suffering even until death, death on the cross. Is this God really all-powerful, all-knowing, all-everything as the catechisms tell us?
The problem is not so much the fact that God isn't all that and more, but rather that He doesn't fit our mold. He refuses to be boxed in. His ways are not our ways. Thank God!
I often think back to times in my faith walk where I asked God for a sign. I asked Him for silly things and serious things. I asked because I was lost and needed direction. Often He answered me clearly and without delay. Other times it seemed as though He didn't hear a word I uttered. As I look back now, it is those times of silence on His part that I cherish. I cherish them because I realize He did not answer my request because He had something far better planned. Yes, the silence was difficult at the time, but it has trained me to be more trusting, more patient, and more faithful.
In today's Gospel the people are pressing Jesus for some sort of a sign. They want proof that He is who they think He is. They want something that will remove all doubt. They want more bread, more healings, levitations, shows of power or something of the like. To this request Jesus says, "no," at least He won't give them the silly signs they desire but the ultimate sign of His divinity, the Resurrection. Like Jonah of old, who was spewed upon the shore after three days in the belly of the whale, Jesus will spend three days in the belly of the earth and be spewed upon the shores of eternity. We will too and His resurrection is the only sign we need.
The crowd presses on,
They seek a sign.
Is this the one who is to come?
Show us a power,
Give us some bread,
And we'll follow when it's done.
There'll be no sign,
Of such simple things,
No magic lies in store.
A far greater sign,
Will be given to you,
Like the one spewed upon the shore.
The Queen of the South,
And the Ninevite men,
Will condemn you on that day.
Far greater than Solomon,
Far greater than Jonah,
Is the one you cast away.
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How to get better at prayer.
- Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
- Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go. Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
- Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days. Mark off the days on your calendar. If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
- Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him. I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development. God is the same way. Spend time praying as best you can. Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation. Don't forget to listen
- Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life. It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
- Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer Primer, Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer, Time for God, The Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.