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When you pray, know that nothing will change God’s mind about this one thing

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Before we pray we need to understand that we are all loved by God. Photo: Unsplash
Before we pray we need to understand that we are all loved by God. Photo: Unsplash

Before anyone can ever consider the whole reality of prayer, there needs to be a preliminary understanding. Namely that one is loved by God, otherwise prayer has no place, rhyme or reason at all.

The older I get the more I see how few people really know and believe this of themselves. We seem to relegate the love of God to children, not grown adults who struggle in the real world. God has never outgrown his need for our love, and we never outgrow our need for his.

We can easily work out why God might love someone else, doing whatever he can for them but not for me, because after all, I know too much about myself. I can give times and dates for why he should not love me.

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Yet the plain truth is, God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t change God’s mind about loving you. He just does.

I remember my uncle who was a Vincentian priest going to see a man who had been estranged from the church for a very long time. He had also lived a life that seemingly precluded a happy ending.

Yet at the end he asked for a priest and my uncle happened to be the one who went. He heard the sorry saga and, obviously, I do not know what that was about.

I only know that my uncle said something like, “Listen mate, God loves you and there’s nothing you can do about it and no one can change that, no pope, no cardinal, no prime minister, no one.”

“Whatever has stopped you living life and knowing that love, God has long since forgiven and forgotten.”

The thing is, do we believe this? The words from Isaiah 43:4, “You are precious in my eyes and I love you,” belong to you, if you will take them from God.

So often you and I start with the whole issue of God’s love the wrong way around. We focus on our love for God, which is never up to standard in our eyes.

However, the real starting point is God. I had the good fortune once to care for a little girl, let’s call her Lisa, who is out there somewhere today. She must be forty now and doesn’t even know I exist.

I won’t go into her background but there are things I clearly remember. I remember walking her up and down when she was sick and crying, I remember her first step and her first word which was “shoooos” because we had been saying it endlessly when we bought her a pair of red shoes.

I remember her smile, her laugh, I remember so very much and, as I said, she has no memory of me.Yet that does not stop me from thinking of her often and wondering how her life turned out.

Neither has the hope died of seeing her one day. Lisa’s love for me is almost non-existent, but my love for her will never go away. And so it is with God.

He is no different with us. He has you constantly in mind. He never stops thinking of you. He doesn’t need you to think of Him first to jog His memory of you.

You are in God’s heart all the time, just as Lisa is in mine. “I have carved you into the palm of my hand,” says God through the prophet Isaiah (Isa 49:16).

There is a wonderful theologian from the Harvard School of Theology, Miroslav Volf. I heard him interviewed when he was in Australia. I do not remember the question he was asked but I remember his answer: “I am not who people say I am. I am not who I tell myself I am. I am who God says I am and he tells me that I am his beloved.”

We do well to simply ask God one day, to tell you about his love for you. You may get a big surprise. Knowing his love is the beginning of prayer.

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