Checking In with Pope Francis

Just over a year ago, Pope Francis gave the world his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, in which he extends an invitation:
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.

So how are we doing?

Pope Francis hopes we encounter our Lord Jesus each and every day. There are lots of ways to do this: at church, in the Scriptures, service, relationships, nature. . . . and through personal prayer. Prayer is paying attention to Jesus, or, as the Pope says, at least letting Jesus pay attention to us. 

Prayer is our relationship with God. St. Teresa of Avila liked to describe this prayer-relationship as "a close sharing between friends." Let's each take some time today to check in on our relationship with our good and loving God.
  • How do I respond to the idea that prayer is simply a relationship, relating with God?
  • What has been my most successful relationship with another person?
  • Which personality traits of both the other and myself contribute to the success of that relationship?
  • What kind of effort (pleasurable, routine, sacrificial, etc.) do I put into that relationship?
  • Have any relationships in my life hurt me, causing me to lose trust?
  • How has love changed my life?
  • Deep down, how do I feel about putting more time and energy into my relationship with God?
  • How do I pray now? (Or when does it occur to me to pray?)
  • Is my prayer life sustaining me?
  • Would I like to try a different way of praying, or to try praying at a different time of day?
  • What would happen if I dedicated myself to a new (or renewed) way of praying for 3 days? 5 days? A week?
  • How did I pray when I was young?
  • What do I want for the child(ren) or students in my life, ultimately? How would praying with them affect our relationship?
Prayer is a gift. When we invite God into our lives in a more personal way, we are really responding to God's invitation. If we feel moved to pray more, God is at work in us. Let's ask God to work for us and in us. Pope Francis encourages us to seek a daily encounter with Jesus--let's ask God for that gift.

Photo Credit - Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/thinkstock