My favorite section in Dr. Christopher Kaczor’s new book, The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology, is the chapter on The Way of Prayer. (Giveaway ends today at Midnight!)
I’ve been thinking a lot about Prayer, especially within the last year or so as I’ve been making more of an effort to really PRAY. Like for real.
I love how Dr. Kaczor starts the chapter on Prayer,
One way to love God and neighbor is through prayer. In raising our mind and heart to God in payer, we join ourselves to God’s goodwill for all; we appreciate the Divine goodness, truth, and majesty; and we become unified with Gods’ mind and will. Both individual prayer as well as communal prayer are beneficial.
In his research, Dr. Kaczor discovered some amazing things about Prayer and how it “intersects” with positive psychology and happiness. In this chapter (Chapter Three), he uses the Lord’s Prayer of the Our Father to break down the different ways Prayer works in our lives and in every situation to bring us to happiness.
In that prayer, we acknowledge our need and dependence on God for all things and we offer him our gratitude for all that we have. The hardest-hitting part of the Our Father is the part on Forgiveness.
I always find it easier to say, “forgive us our trespasses,” but then I sort of gloss over the part about, “as we forgive others who trespass against us.”
I want to be forgiven but I don’t always want to or know how to forgive.
It’s embarrassing and awkward when we have to ask someone to forgive us. It means I have to accept that I made a mistake – I AM NOT PERFECT. And then I have to tell that to someone else. Ug.
Recently, one of our son’s who shall remain nameless for now, ran his bike into our neighbor’s new garage door and left scratches and a small dent. For some reason, he didn’t tell us about it. Hmm, I wonder why.
Our neighbor’s son knew about it though and informed his father and his father informed us. [Hold head in shame.]
We talked with our son about it and he agreed he’d go over there and personally apologize and offer to do work for them to make up for the damages.
He agonized over this. And, for those of you know this son of ours, this was a huge deal for him to have to do this. But, he did it. He walked over there with me, knocked on the door and said in his most sincere and quiet voice,
I’m sorry for running into your garage door.
and then –
Can I do some work for you?
I almost cried seeing how hard it was for him to do this but I was also so proud that he did do it despite his fear.
Immediately, our very kind and merciful neighbors said what he needed to hear,
It’s ok. I FORGIVE YOU.
She gave him a high-five (knowing he wouldn’t like a hug) and then –
And went and played again with his friends. He could breathe again knowing that not only had he been forgiven, but he had also reconciled his relationship with our neighbors. (Well that will come with the work he’ll do for them too.)
Dr. Kaczor rightly notes that,
Without long-term relationships, deep human happiness is impossible. Since human beings misunderstand, harm, and fail each other frequently, if we can’t forgive, relationships will not last.
But since asking for forgiveness, and forgiving others is so difficult, how do we do it?
Jesus told his disciples, ‘love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44).’ Contemporary research has shown the value of this advice for reducing aggression. One study found that ‘provoked participants who prayed for the person who angered them were less aggressive toward that person who angered them.’
If you are having a hard time forgiving someone, or asking someone to forgive you, PRAY. PRAY. PRAY.
Jesus, I give this to you. I ask you to bless this person I have hurt, or this person that has hurt me. Bless us both and help us reconcile our differences so that we may be re-united through you, Christ Jesus, and regain our peace and happiness in You once again.