Faithful people have long looked for the way to God and his blessings in life. Thomas was among the first seekers as he asked Jesus how he could know the way. Jesus replied, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. In his responses to the questions about how to find God’s grace, Jesus consistently said that God himself is the way. We do not get to God by any accomplishment of our own, nor by any merit. God is our path. God comes to us and gives us all that we need in life.
God coming to us, however, is something in which we participate. God dwells in the midst of us, not far away, and we are invited to be attentive to the presence of God already in our midst. How can we know the way? By tuning in and paying attention. Most of our questions about how to find God imply that God is somewhere else. Jesus responds by reminding us that God is in the midst of us, nearby, surrounding us. We touch the presence of God by practicing awareness.
Teresa of Avila, a Spanish nun and mystic in the 16th century, was someone so prayerful that she became a resource for others. One of her more famous quotes is, There is but one road to God and that is prayer. She knew well that we cannot simply sit around or go about our regular schedule and hope that God will make himself known to us. We must apply ourselves to prayer as the Christian community teaches. We must have a daily and regular time of touching the peace of Christ. Jesus says to his disciples before he dies that they will struggle and suffer, but he promises them peace. Christ will give peace which the world cannot give.
How do we find peace in our lives? We tend to think that we can find peace by altering the events in our lives. If things were easier at work, or if my parents’ health was better, or if the kids didn’t require so much of my time, then maybe I could find some peace. That never quite works out though, does it? If we’re finding peace only when events are calmer, that is no peace at all. That’s just a lull between storms. What Jesus promises us is a peace that lasts throughout storms, real and true peace.
If things are more hectic and stressful than you can handle, that probably is a reflection of the status of your prayer life. In such times we hope for things to calm down, but what is more effective is adding time of prayer to a hectic schedule. A balanced life isn’t accomplished so much by cutting back on things we perceive as harmful as it is by adding more time for prayer.
Prayer is not to be simply a reaction to difficulty in life. Prayer is to be a regular and faithful offering of our time and person to the graceful God who dwells all around us. Each day we are to commit time to that graceful being. If things are stressful, get up 30 minutes earlier and practice praying: journal, sit quietly, read scripture, take a walk. Prayer can take many forms but it takes consistent effort. A life of faithfulness necessarily involves regular prayer. If you don’t have such a time, take it up. If you’ve gotten a little lazy and wandered away from your discipline, return to it. That is the pathway to all things good. There we see that God has already provided for us all we can imagine or desire.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.