I remember vividly the day that these readings were read in 1979, when I was 5 years old. No really.
Well, at least I remember the psalm. “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” Well, really what I remember is my dad whispering those words in my ear. Let me explain.
It was a few minutes before Mass, and my dad had the missalette open, ready to go. An image on the page caught my attention: a sort of stick figure person, with hands elevated, and I could tell the head was raised skyward too. This picture captured my imagination like nothing else in Church had to that point. After some time pondering the image, I finally noticed the words underneath it, and asked Dad what it said.
He leaned over to whisper in my ear, “It says, ‘Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.’”
With that, my brain went into overdrive. What does it all mean, this picture and these words? After a few seconds, a lightbulb went off over my head. I was being taught a new way to pray. Say those words, take that posture, and God will answer, so I thought. God will tell me what to do! I made up my mind to try it the next chance I got.
Monday morning, I tell my Mom that I’m going outside to play. On a cold January morning in Minnesota, one has to dress appropriately: hat, scarf, parka, mittens, snowmobile pants, boots… I get that all on, waddle down the back steps of the house and give it a try: I throw my hands up in the air and pray, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will!” And wait. And wait. And wait some more. And, after four or five seconds, there was *still* no reply.
So, maybe I’m in the wrong spot, I think. So I try a different part of the yard, and another and another. Then I wonder if I have the posture wrong: was the person in the image standing on one leg maybe, and I missed it? Nope.
Eventually, a bit dejected, I went back in the house, prayer unanswered. This series of events has stuck with me my whole life. It’s meant different things to me through the years: Does God notice little old me? Is there a God to notice me at all? And these days, it means that I was probably seeking an answer to prayer in the wrong spot, in the wrong way.
I’m not sure if on that cold January day I was expecting a big booming voice to answer my prayer: “Well, today, Orin, I’d like you to clean your room, help mom with the dishes and try not to pick on your sister so much…” But very few of us have a miraculous experience with God like that, or like (for instance) Moses had at the burning bush.
No, we must observe answers to our prayers differently. But how? I suggest to you that as each of us are created in the image and likeness of God, and that the presence of God within us – temples of the Holy Spirit – is strengthened though prayer, Sacraments, and living as part of a faith-0filled community. Is God perhaps asking someone around you to say something or do something in answer to your prayer? Have you looked at prayer and the faith community that way before?
And here’s the real challenge for any Christian: If God is asking that of others, then God is also asking that of you. Is God perhaps asking you to say something or do something in answer to someone else’s prayer?
Maybe once in a while we all should throw our hands up in the air, and say, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” What is God asking of each of us today?