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On Prayer

From the Director

By Fr. John Burger

There used to be a kind of joke going around that said, “As long as there are algebra exams, there will be prayer in the public schools.” Algebra is important, but I think prayer is of even greater importance. Communicating with our Creator gives us dignity and nobility.

Here at St. Columban’s, people do contact us often to offer prayers of intercession particularly when they feel desperate. And recently I had the experience of having a woman I was introduced to as a Columban thank me profusely for praying for her son who had been near death and recovered. The medical situation had been grave, but her prayer was answered. The experience has given her a new perspective on what her definition of a “real disaster” is. Having been so close to losing her precious boy, she is no longer impressed by something as inconsequential as a flooded basement.

Indeed, in this modern world and despite their fast-paced lives, people still feel the need to pray. Many of the things that can seem important enough to pray about are actually pretty superficial. But when all seems lost, whether it is about something as important as saving a life or as trivial as saving the stuff in the basement, we cannot do without prayer. Many are not aware of this truth, and others appear to have forgotten it.

They say that prayer changes things, but I believe it also changes people, especially Christian prayer offered in the spirit of Jesus.

Every culture seems to have developed a way to storm heaven. When I was in Japan, not far from my parish was a Shinto shrine to the fox god oinori sama. I remember seeing a woman bow to the god, again walk around the little shrine and bow again and again and again. The fox god is a specialist god, known for helping with fertility. He also helps with agriculture, industry, and with general prosperity and worldly success. Who knows what the woman approaching his shrine was so anxious about? Were her prayers a cry for help, a supplication, a prayer in desperation or in thanksgiving?

They say that prayer changes things, but I believe it also changes people, especially Christian prayer offered in the spirit of Jesus. In the model prayer that Jesus gave us, the Our Father, He prays “thy will be done.” He does not try to cajole the Father into obeying His will. How many of us have discovered that we may not have received what we prayed for, but have been given unexpected gifts.

French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray once put it this way, “the human person may surround himself with all the most precious objects, achieve the greatest power, enjoy all earthly pleasures, but in him there will always be a void that only God can fill.”


About us

Columban logoThe Columbans are a society of missionaries, including priests and lay people, who minister to people of various cultures as a way of witnessing to the universal love of God.

We go in the name of the Church to announce, by deed and word, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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Missionary Society of St. Columban
1902 N. Calhoun
St. Columbans, NE 68056
Phone: 877-299-1920
Fax: 402-291-4984