My mind and heart are filled to overflowing with people and situations I'm praying about daily. And if I or someone I love have serious problems, I can't seem to pray anything, day or night, except "Dear God, can't You please -" and then I find myself telling God what I think God should do: "save this marriage"; or " heal this child"; or "reunite this family."
After all, didn't Jesus Himself, when talking about prayer, say
"Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you, then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more then will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:9-13.)
But if my relationship with God depended on Him answering my prayers according to my specifics, our relationship would have been over long ago. Because He certainly doesn't always answer my prayers in the way and in the time frame I request.
I think Mother Teresa has a much simpler, more realistic, more trusting way of praying: placing ourselves and those we pray for into God our Father's Hands. I've learned that if I'm humble, I admit to myself that I don't necessarily know what's best for the people I love, the people whose concerns haunt me. God knows their lives, their hearts, their souls. Even when He appears to give them, or me, scorpions and snakes!
God knows that the scorpion of suffering can lead a loved one or us to deep emotional and spiritual growth. God knows that the poisonous snake of a path filled with obstacles may strengthen and deepen a loved one's - or our - independence and resolve. Our loving heavenly Father knows exactly what good gifts to give to all of His children, and at the point in their lives when these gifts are needed the most! And the gifts are to bring us and those we love to salvation, nothing more and nothing less.
And this is the most beautiful and sublime prayer we can give others: prayer to aid them to eternal life. Not prayers telling God how and when to give them that. Prayers that stand in unity with them, prayers for them to grow in their relationships with God. Prayers for us, that we may better hear God's Voice of Wisdom and Love in our hearts and souls.
Daily I place these loved ones, - my family, my friends, all those who need prayer the most - into God's Hands and pray for them to be open to God's Holy Spirit, Who will fill them with spiritual gifts as they face the problems in their lives, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will give them the kind of healing that God knows they need, whether it be physical, spiritual, or emotional. Because St. Luke is very clear: God ALWAYS gives us the gift of His Spirit. Praying to be filled with the Holy Spirit is the prayer that will always be answered in the way we desire.
This can be a very difficult way to pray when our broken hearts are pleading with God to change someone or something; it's a tremendous test of how much we love and trust God. Jesus whispers to us, asking us if we can truly surrender and say "Thy Will be done," as He did in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus knew and believed that with God all things are possible. He also knew and trusted that to be one with His Father was to be one with His Father's Will. Broken, bloody, weeping, He descended into the darkest of shadows, the shadow of Death, and rose radiant and transformed.
Every time we surrender our lives and our loved ones' lives into God's Hands, and pray for God's Spirit to strengthen and enlighten us, we can more clearly see the subtle, delicate, almost hidden ways that God is at work in those lives. And the pattern of God's work in us and among us is always the same: Darkness into Light, Brokenness into Healing, Death into Life. God is Love; there is no other Way that He can work, no other Will that He can have. When we pray, when we surrender everyone and everything to Him, all we have to ask for is for Him to be with our loved ones, filling them with His life, for Him to be with us, filling us with His grace. And then we trust Him to shower us with good gifts, to bring everyone and everything eventually into transformed eternal Life.