On Sundays, I usually replace normal prayer time with spiritual reading. It’s a bit more relaxed (as befits a Sunday), I can have coffee and cigarettes while I do it (I don’t think Jesus minds), and it’s always wonderfully worthwhile. Lately I have been reading Frank Sheed’s Theology and Sanity, and keeping a Bible and my journal nearby.
Last Sunday’s session yielded this journal entry, which I tried to expand into a post, but it ballooned out to a bazillion words and lost all coherence. So here’s the entry itself, with minimal editing so that it has some chance of making sense to somebody besides me. If this works out, maybe I’ll make a habit of it.
In the struggle of the human mind for more light, infallibility, whether of Church or Pope, saves the mind no trouble, does for the mind nothing that the mind could do for itself.1
This principle is true not only with respect to the way the Holy Spirit guides the Church as a whole, but also with respect to the way He guides individual people.
In, for example, my quest for healing and wholeness, it is utterly required that I expend every effort that a human being can expend — bring all of my natural powers to bear on the matter.
What is not required is that I worry about whether I will be successful. This is what it means to have the help of God, and to trust God: not that He will do anything for me that I could do for myself, but that He will see to the results.
And that takes a great deal of the sting out of it. It is hard to work when you are unsure as to whether your work will be in vain. It is easier, much easier, when you don’t have to worry about that part.
This has very much to do with something Anthony Bloom says about prayer:
It is absolutely pointless to ask God for something which we ourselves are not prepared to do. If we say ‘O God, make me free from this or that temptation’ while at at the same time seeking every possible way of falling to just such a temptation, hoping now that God is in control, that He will get us out of it, then we do not stand much chance.2
At first one is tempted to ask: “Then what difference does it make whether I pray for the thing or not?” But we are not praying that the task be done for us — only that our efforts be guided and brought to their proper fruition.