Why Do We Pray?

Someone might ask, “Why do you pray?” Let me be honest. At one time I prayed because I was a Jesuit. In other words, my answer meant, “I’m supposed to pray.” Prayer was an obligation and, to be frank, a burden. At times I have prayed to placate God, to get God off my back, as it were. Many times I have prayed to obtain something, a favor, for example. Such answers to the question make prayer utilitarian. No doubt, my motivation for prayer still has vestiges of these answers. However, in my better moments my answer to the question now is, “I pray because I believe in God.” I believe in God, who loves us with an everlasting love and wants us as partners and friends. I pray because God has made me for it. [William A. Barry SJ]

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