Proclaim Your Praise
Proclaim Your Praise
“God calls man first...In prayer, the faithful God's initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response.” - CCC 2567
I’ve never been much of a golfer, but I’ve always admired from a distance all the details that go into playing the game well. Discipline, practice, posture - all of these are key elements that can’t be ignored if one hopes to have a successful outcome. The details matter.
We can say some similar things about the cultivation of a fruitful life of prayer. Of course the analogy breaks down rather quickly, but maybe we have something to learn from the game of golf. Like golf, the discipline to do it, to make time, to change habits so we can prioritize it is a prerequisite. Like golf, it takes practice to grow, to learn how to hear the voice of God, to discover a rhythm or an ease. Like golf, the posture in which we approach prayer makes all the difference in the outcome.
This posture is what I want to focus on for this reflection, and is the primary focus of our song “Proclaim Your Praise.” A couple years ago, I was in a season of struggle in my prayer life: in short, I just didn’t have any interest in praying. I didn’t have a great motivation to spend time with God. It felt draining and duty-driven. As I became more aware of it and examined what was going on interiorly, God revealed to me an alarming situation - “work” and “prayer” had become almost synonymous things in my life.
I work full-time in evangelistic apostolates. I write and play Church music. I plan and lead retreats. I offer talks and seminars on various themes of Faith to thousands of people every year. It’s an understatement to say it’s easy for the lines between “work” and “prayer” to become blurred with a schedule like this. But it’s also an understatement to say there’s not much these two things have in common. They have no business being equated to one another.
Should prayer never be laborious? No - not what I’m saying.
Should our work not be intertwined with our life of prayer? - Indeed, it should be.
But here’s the thing - regardless of our profession, the season of life we’re in, or whatever, we need to remember that prayer is more than a duty. More than a good thing to do. More than something we do at all. In fact, prayer is something God does. The catechism says as much in the paragraph I quoted at the beginning of this reflection. God calls us first...just like he called us into existence...just like he loved us first while we were still sinners. His initiative always comes first. His invitation always come first. Perhaps a simple way to think about it - He’s the lover that always says, “I love you” first, and we always are the one responding “I love you too.”
Prayer isn’t and never will be primarily something we do in the sense that it’s not up to us to make it happen. We don’t have the fireworks or the matches - God does. He initiates, and we respond to that initiative. It’s a relationship. It’s a conversation. It’s an encounter. It’s the place that we grow in intimacy with God. And the posture in which we exist before God is one of receiving and responding...just feel that pressure come off for a second.
It’s true that sometimes even receiving a gift, or responding to an invitation requires work on our part, but the pressure isn’t on us to initiate the gift or to plan the party. It’s true that human relationships in their goodness require hard work on the part of those in the relationship, and God certainly calls us to “work” on our relationship with Him. The fundamental difference is that He already loves perfectly, gives us grace to become perfect, and walks patiently with us on that journey. In fact, He leaves it up to us how we want to respond, no pressure at all.
God is ever the giver; we exist as the receiver, and we respond by giving back what little we have. He receives us and loves us.
Perhaps at this point it begins to seem obvious why the posture of our hearts is so important to the fruitfulness of our prayer. When we let God initiate, when we let God lead, we experience the freedom of being in love and following the one we trust. Prayer isn’t a burden; it’s the place that we rest with the one that knows and understands us in our joys and sorrows, our sins and successes, our knowledge and our questions.
We wrote “Proclaim Your Praise” because we wanted a way to begin every live event in this posture of prayer, this posture of letting God initiate. David proclaim in Psalm 51, “Open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise!” This is truly our desire in all of our work. We want God to open our lips, to move our hands, to stir our hearts, to ignite our intellects. We want all of the songs, all of the praise, and all of the worship we offer to be a response to something we’ve received. We want to invite you to experience the same.
As it’s become the song with which we begin all of our events, we feel like it’s also the perfect way to begin sharing this new chapter of music from The Vigil Project. We hope you experience in it the call to “that mysterious encounter known as prayer.” - CCC 2567
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