“Obedience unites us so closely to God that in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.”
– St. Thomas Aquinas
I am continuing with the theme of obedience, because it strikes at me as something I desperately need to focus on for myself. I intended to bring my little book of sermons with me, but I am away from home going back and forth to class today and I left it, so I am not able to access it at this time. Instead I searched online for quotes of our Saint on the topic of obedience. The treasure above is what I found.
I have experienced this phenomenon regarding prayer. I have a hard time letting go of my own will for how I want things done. I like having plans and I like them to be followed. If I plan with my partner in courtship to pray the Rosary over the phone together at a certain point in the day, I am highly upset if those plans fall through. He is much better about ‘going with the flow’ than I am. He is content to pray whenever and wherever it pleases God to have us pray; in other words, he is pleased to pray whenever the opportunity presents itself. But as for me…I whine, groan and complain, sighing and huffing and puffing, thinking to myself, “Now what am I supposed to do with this mindset for prayer that I worked so hard at building up? Doesn’t God want me to pray well?”
Yes, of course He does. But more importantly, He wants me to pray when it pleases Him. If I plan a certain time for prayer and it does not go through, is it pleasing to God for me to complain and murmur against Him and His alleged ‘destruction’ of my prayerful mindset?
No, my friends. This is a very dangerous way to think. Number one, my so-called ‘prayerful’ mindset was obviously by no means a reliance upon God’s providence, but rather a prideful will wrenching away the reigns from the hands of God, Who provides us all that we need when we need it. Sure, we can plan on certain things and prepare accordingly, but when I react in such a way that incriminates God, the Author and Arranger of all things, for sabotaging my plans, this shows pridefulness, not trust. How dare I point the finger of accusation at my God? What place have I? This is pridefulness at its worst.
Number two, if the plans fell through, then it obviously wasn’t the will of God for the prayer to happen at that time. Instead of groaning and complaining because plans have changed, I should humbly praise God and say, “Thy Will be done; such is the Will of God.” Do little children worry themselves about the plans of their parents? Do they become upset if the dentist appointment gets changed or if an impromptu trip to the grocery disturbs their Saturday morning cartoons? No, and if so, we would think it rare and strange. Children are able to bend and sway with the winds of change much better than we silly adults are. They trust their parents to work and arrange all of their necessities for them; they always have food to eat, clothes to wear, and time for rest, work and recreation. Why do we not trust God in this way, since we know that prayer is a good for us, as are all of our physical and spiritual needs, and that God is all powerful and loves us much more than our parents can? God does not intend to take away from us our prayer time or our ‘mindsets’ for prayer, but rather to draw us nearer to Him by our humble submission to His will above ours. There is something else He intends for that time, and indeed, in any cross or difficulty we encounter God provides us a means to practice the heroic virtue of obedience.
Let us trust our Loving Father to provide the time, grace and means for all that we need, whether it be prayer, schoolwork, or other necessities. God knows what we need and when and how we need it, which is much more than what we can say for ourselves. We should be ashamed at ourselves for pointing the finger at God for ruining ‘our’ plans–He laughs at us for doing so. Instead, let us abandon our silly ‘plans’ if we see that they are not the will of God, and immediately turn our will to His by being obedient in all circumstances, humbly bowing our heads, offering our will and saying, “Not my will but Thine be done. I trust Thee, O Lord my God.”