Prayer can’t change nature, but it can change our hearts

| Father Charles Lachowitzer | February 18, 2016

The word “lent” means spring. For all those who have been praying for spring, our prayers have been answered! Except, this is not exactly the spring we wanted. The ground is still frozen and covered with snow. There are no leaves on the trees, no flowers, no warmth, and the wind howls with a biting sting.

The snow will melt, the grass will grow, the trees will bud into leaves and the flowers will bloom, regardless of our prayers to hurry it all up. When I’m asked to pray for a sunny day for someone’s parade, I reply, “If my prayers had that kind of power, there would be palm trees lining Summit Avenue.”

As a child, when our class was getting ready for a field trip, we asked Sister Mary Timothy if we could pray for a sunny day. Sister told us that it was selfish to pray for sun when the farmers were praying for rain.

Yes, some people have been praying for spring — and yes, we all know that as a season of nature it will arrive when it will, and there is nothing we can do to speed it up or slow it down. The powers of nature are indifferent to our calendars.

Meanwhile, Lent has arrived whether or not we wanted it to. It is the dual-nature of being human that we are part of the seasons of nature and part of seasons of faith.

Nonetheless, unlike the seasons of nature, prayers do work in our spiritual seasons. Prayer is a central part of the Lenten season and every day of the liturgical year. The powers of God are not indifferent to the seasons of our lives.

The grace of God elevates us beyond the conditions of our physical nature so that we may know and experience our true spiritual nature — the truth of who God created us to be. We know all too well that the grace of God does not replace our human nature. Otherwise we would not age or get sick or die. Nor would those we love.
Rather, grace builds upon our human nature. Grace moves us past the imperfections and mortality of the natural world so that we may see the perfect and eternal world of God.

We remember that Moses led the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt, through the desert and into the Promised Land. And we remember and experience in every season how our Lord Jesus Christ moves us out of slavery to sin, through the desert of disciplined self-sacrifice and into the freedom of heaven.

In a culture that so easily talks about the weather outside, are we willing to talk about our spiritual seasons inside? Are we willing to pray for a change in us rather than a change in the weather?

We pray that we may melt the cold indifference to the suffering in our world. We pray that the icy winds of division may give way to a warm breeze of reconciliation and peace. We pray that we may weed out persistent sin and prune away dead branches. We pray for growth in our spiritual lives. We pray that we may blossom and bear fruit in Christ Jesus wherever we have been planted.

The Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the tools of the Master Gardener. The grace of the sacraments, especially going to confession and Mass, is Miracle-Gro for the soul.

Our prayers might not make any difference in the seasons of nature, but in the seasons of the heart, prayer makes all the difference in the world.

May we use God’s gifts of grace given to us in this season so that we may know anew the joy of Easter.

Easter. It, too, is a spiritual season. It, too, means “spring.”

La oración no puede cambiar la naturaleza, pero puede cambiar nuestros corazones

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Category: Only Jesus

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