A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch at a family party chatting with my older cousin, Pete. As we were sitting, Pete’s 2 year old son, “baby Peter” as we call him, came strolling into the room. He had that “it’s been a long day, I need mommy or daddy” look written all over his face. His little arms were filled to the brim – a tennis ball in one hand, his “sippy cup” in the other, and his sister’s princess doll clenched between his arms and his chest. Pete caught sight of him in all this distress and called him over to sit with us. Baby Peter, relieved to see his father close by, quickly trotted our way.
Once he made it to us he instantly unloaded everything he was holding onto his dad’s lap. The tennis ball, the “sippy cup”, the doll – out of his arms they went. Pete took these things and set them aside nicely, allowing his son to then climb into his lap, rest his head on his chest, and simply let go of all the stress that comes with being a two-year-old at a family party. Then the two of them just kind of sat there for a while. Pete softly asked him a few questions about his day, what him and his cousins had been playing, and lastly, what was bothering him.
After some back-and-forth conversation and assurance from daddy that things would be okay, baby Peter was renewed. The anecdote prescribed by his father this time around was a refill of juice in his sippy cup and a change into his spiderman pajamas. Following this, baby Peter ran off, ready to face the rest of the day.
I was so struck by this simple interaction between my cousin and his child, and figured out why soon after.
I realized that this father-son interaction was how I desire to interact with my heavenly Father, and more specifically, how I desire to pray to Him.
Follow me with this for a minute… let’s unpack baby Peter’s actions.
First, he decidedly sought out his dad. He did not let any of the distractions around him, from the toys laying all over the floor to the plenteous desserts on the kitchen table, to prevent him from turning to his father.
Connecting with the Lord in prayer is one of the most important things we can do, yet, we allow so many lesser things to prevent us from it. We must be determined and committed to making prayer a priority in our daily life.
Next, baby Peter handed over to his dad everything that he was holding onto. He handed these things over trusting that his father would keep them safe, yes, but more importantly because holding onto these things would have prevented him from being with and talking to his father the way he desired to.
When we approach God in prayer, do we hand everything over to Him? Or do we hold onto things so that we don’t have to fully open up to God? Our families, jobs, education, finances, joys and sorrows, triumphs and failures. Not only does our Father know how to handle these things better than we do, but clenching them prevents us from going deeper into relationship with Him.
After he let go of everything he was holding, baby Peter simply sat and conversed with his father. He was still, calm and content just being with his dad. And, if I had to guess, his father’s presence was infinitely more important than anything they talked about. It’s the same with our heavenly Father.
Rattling off a few ‘Hail Mary’s’ and telling God what we need is not the whole story. We must encounter the person of Christ, and that requires seeking Him in the silence, being with Him, and speaking to Him from the depths of our hearts.
Lastly, baby Peter accepted the answers his father had for him, which in this case happened to be more juice and a change into his pajamas. He then joyfully went out to face the world once again. God knows what we need much more than we do. No prayer goes unheard. We need to trust that God is refilling our “sippy cups,” even when it doesn’t seem like it. And then, we must respond by going back into the world, joyfully and peacefully witnessing to the good news we have in Jesus Christ.
St. Teresa of Avila said,
“Give me a person who makes
15 minutes of prayer every day,
and I’ll give you a saint.”
I think we can do this, don’t you? The world needs Saints, and Saints are made from prayer.
“Prayer is the breath of faith:
in a relationship of trust, in a relationship of love,
dialogue cannot be lacking, and prayer is a dialogue of the soul with God.”
Tom Pagano is a graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville (2011), with a double major in Finance and Theology. He is currently working as the Northeast Regional Director for the Augustine Institute, an organization committed to helping Catholics understand, live and share their faith by creating engaging programs, resources and digital platforms. Tom has committed his career to working with faith-based nonprofit organizations in the areas of development and mission. Tom is most excited about the newest adventure that God has called him to; being a husband to Megan and father to their first child, baby Zelie.