Tell God About It

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

Throughout my life, it’s been made quite clear to me that God listens. Numerous people far wiser than I have assured me that it’s always appropriate to bring our troubles to God. I’ve shared before that my family gathered in our living room to pray whenever a loved one experienced serious illness. At those times, we relied on The Rosary to express our sentiments. When other equally traumatic events were in the offing, my mom asked me to say a special prayer for the person involved who was “having some troubles”. At these times, my mom assured me that offering my own words on behalf of that loved one would suffice.

Those special prayers of my own creation encouraged my habitually familiar stance toward God. Ever since, I’ve spoken plainly and directly in my prayer. Though I’d like to think that I’ve refined my childhood approach a bit, I still find myself speaking with the Almighty as I would with my best friend. I never wonder if God is listening. Why question the obvious?

So it is that I turn my tearful eyes upward whenever necessary. I can’t get through a newscast these days without pointing out the obvious to God in spite of the fact that God sees the world’s misery firsthand. Oddly, simply acknowledging God’s attentive ear to me and to all of us lifts my spirit and solidifies my hope. Acknowledging God’s attentive ear also gives me the courage to do what I can to alleviate the troubles around me.

Dear God, you attend to each one of us every moment of every day. Thank you!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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God Always Listens…

God looked down from the holy height,
from heaven God beheld the earth,
to hear the groaning…

From Psalm 102:20-21

When I was a child, people often asked me to pray on their behalf. I obliged as best I could. Every night, I said my prayers. This was more my mother’s doing than my own. When she tucked me into bed, she’d always ask, “Did you say your prayers?” If I had, I proudly acknowledged this. If I hadn’t, I admitted my omission and quickly began. Sometimes, though I told my mom that I already said my prayers, she mentioned that I might want to offer an extra prayer for someone who was sick or who had something difficult to deal with. Again, I happily obliged. I was pleased that someone thought my prayers were helpful.

Over the years, difficulties which seemed not to be alleviated by my prayers gave me reason to question this effort. I wondered far too often if prayer did any good at all. Fortunately, I eventually realized that presenting a laundry list of requests to God isn’t all there is to prayer. I finally learned to listen. Rather then voicing what God already knew, I invited God to look into my heart for my troubles and those I carried for others. Though I wasn’t always sure of what my prayer accomplished, just knowing that God was aware changed everything for me. Though I rarely knew what, I knew for certain God would see to everything in God’s good time.

Generous God, inspire us with your persistence, that we will always turn to you in our need and with our gratitude.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Always Listens

Jesus said to them,
“Why are you terrified,
O you of little faith?”

Matthew 8:24

I admit it. I become terrified, too.

When I was a little girl, I envied the disciples. I felt quite certain that if I had the opportunity to walk with Jesus every day, I would have made much better use of the time than Jesus’ contemporaries did. I would have had no doubt that Jesus could and would take care of everything I needed.

If you have read my writing before, you know that I have asserted again and again that this is precisely the case. God has generously revealed Divine Love to me and for me throughout my life. I know without a doubt that God loves and cares for me and for every one of us. I also know that God knows us better than we know ourselves and that God knows our every need better than we do. Still, though I believe this with all of my heart, when the chips are down, I sometimes join the disciples in being terrified.

The good news is that, in spite of their shaky faith, the disciples never forgot where to turn. They cried out to Jesus whenever they were in trouble. I’m happy to say that, in spite of my sometimes shaky faith, I also never forget where to turn -and neither should you. God’s ear is always only a whisper away.

Loving God, I know I’m repeating myself here, but thank you for listening and for loving us so completely!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Knows…

God looked down from the holy height,
from heaven God beheld the earth,to hear…

From Psalm 102:20-21

From the time I was very young, people asked me to pray for things. With youthful zeal, I obliged as best I could. Every night, I said my prayers. This was more my mother’s doing than my own. When she tucked me into bed, she always asked, “Did you say your prayers?” If I had, I proudly acknowledged this. If I hadn’t, I admitted my omission and quickly began. Sometimes, though I’d told my mom that I already said my prayers, she asked me to add an extra prayer for someone who was sick or who had something difficult to deal with. Again, I happily obliged. I was pleased that someone thought my prayers were helpful.

Over the years, difficulties which seemed not to be eased by my prayers gave me reason to question this effort. I found myself wondering often if my prayers did any good at all. Fortunately, I eventually realized that presenting a laundry list of requests to God wasn’t the best use of our time together. I learned to sit quietly for a bit. Rather then voicing what God already knew, I invited God to look into my heart for my troubles and for those I carried for others. Though I wasn’t always certain of what my prayer accomplished, just acknowledging that God was aware changed everything for me. Though I rarely knew what, I knew that something would be done in God’s good time.

Dear God, I will try never to doubt your concern for us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Bit of Faith Yields an Abundance Love

Jesus said to them,
“Why are you terrified,
O you of little faith?”

Matthew 8:24

I admit it. I become terrified, too.

When I was a little girl, I envied the disciples. I felt certain that if I’d had the opportunity to walk with Jesus every day, I would have made much better use of the time than Jesus’ contemporaries did. I would’ve had no doubt that Jesus could and would take care of everything I needed.

If you’ve read my writing before, you know that I’ve asserted often that this is precisely the case. God has generously revealed Divine Love to me and for me throughout my life. I know without a doubt that God loves and cares for me and for every one of us. I know that God knows us better than we know ourselves and that God knows our every need better than we do. Still, though I believe this with all of my heart, when the chips are down, I sometimes join the disciples in being terrified.

The good news is that, in spite of their shaky faith, the disciples never forgot where to turn. They cried out to Jesus whenever they were in trouble. I’m happy to say that, in spite of my sometimes shaky faith, I also never forget where to turn and neither should you. God’s ear is always only a prayer away.

Loving God, I know I’m repeating myself here, but thank you for listening and for loving us so completely!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Always Side-By-Side

I’ve shared this numerous times, I know. Still, I repeat that my favorite portrayal of God is offered in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The image of that ever-patient, welcoming and forgiving father who opens his arms to his children, regardless of their carrying on, is something I’ve held dearly all of my life. It is this image of God as our loving parent which encourages me to open my heart to God without reservation or fear.

If you’ve been blessed with a close relationship, you understand the implications of such intimacy. When we open our hearts to others, we hide nothing from them. Neither pretenses nor formalities get in the way of the reality of who we are. When we share ourselves at this level, we put every flaw and every virtue into full view. When God is our partner in such a relationship, even the things we don’t know about ourselves are known to God. Far too frequently, I find myself faced with the reality that I’m not perfect. When this happens, I remind myself that God has been aware of this reality all along. In spite of the pettiness or grandeur of my imperfections, God looks upon me with persistent love. Because God loves me -and all of us- so completely, I approach God with the confidence Abraham exhibits in a passage from Genesis (18:20-32).

Did you notice that each time Abraham speaks he finds God to be both approachable and compassionate? The author of Genesis carefully portrays this encounter as a conversation during which God and Abraham walk side-by-side. In spite of being very much aware that he is in the presence of God, Abraham bargains for the lives of the innocent inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Though God’s apparent anger is in response to the outcries of many righteous people regarding the evil that festers in the two cities, God listens to Abraham. First, Abraham pleads that the cities be spared if there are just fifty innocent inhabitants. Then, he begs for forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty and ten innocent lives. Each time, God responds sympathetically. The chapter that follows tells us that God has Abraham’s plea in mind when God spares the lives of Lot and his family. God also knows the hearts of evildoers and the reasons they do what they do. God loves them as well. You know, God’s mercy is never lost on anyone.

In Luke’s gospel (11:1-13), Jesus refers his disciples to the God with whom Abraham is so familiar. Luke tells us that Jesus has just finished praying himself when the disciples ask him to teach them to pray. Jesus responds with the Lord’s Prayer. After offering this lesson, Jesus goes on to make his instruction regarding prayer perfectly clear. If the disciples have forgotten the persistence of Abraham and God’s generous response to him, Jesus reminds them in no uncertain terms. Jesus tells his friends of a man who responds to his neighbor’s need in the middle of the night, not so much out of love as out of weariness at the neighbor’s persistence. Jesus continues, “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Jesus goes on to point out the disciples’ concern for their own children: “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” The God of Abraham continues to listen!

It occurs to me that I’ve found a second image of God which I must treasure at least as much as that of the father embracing his wayward son. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the young man separates himself from his father while he lives sinfully and squanders his inheritance. Though this young man is always in his father’s thoughts, he is isolated and far away in his darkest moments. When this son finally comes to his senses, he can only hope that his father will take him back as a hired hand. In today’s passage from Genesis, God and Abraham walk side-by-side. There is no question that Abraham is conversing with God face-to-face. Apparently, Abraham finds this to be perfectly normal. It seems to me that God’s close proximity to Abraham is also perfectly and wonderfully normal for you and me. Though the prodigal son was separated from his father for a while, we are never separated from God. God walks side-by side with each one of us every step of the way. In our goodness and in our wrong-doing, God is with us. Yes, even today, the God of Abraham listens.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved