Wishing, Hoping in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, August 15, 2018

hope heart stone

Wishing, Hoping in Prayer

Father Nouwen had an intriguing definition of hope written by a student: “I see hope as an attitude where everything stays open before me….Daring to stay open to whatever will come to me today, tomorrow, two months from now, or a year from now—that is hope.” [1]

According to both the student and to Father Nouwen, when we hope, hope gives us the perseverance to continue trying, striving. Hope helps us to know we are on target in prayer to pray the prayer of hope.

When “wishes” come into the picture, what then? Is that like going to some sort of giant vending-machine in the sky? Or, perhaps, a wish-fulfillment sort of thing, where wishes magically appear—or magically disappear—as the pray-er wishes earnestly. While this may be one way of prayer, certainly, is it the best way? Ought I treat the Lord God Almighty, who made heaven and earth, like a vending machine? Where I can come up to the “God-o-matic,” punch a number or pull a knob, and out pops the answer to my prayer request?

As Nouwen says, wishes might indeed get tangled up with hope, and “concerns for how our wishes will be fulfilled. So, too, our prayers are not directed toward the gift, but toward the one who gives it….You wish that…but you hope in….” [2]

Hope is open-ended. Hope is expectation, pure and simple. Hope is simplicity itself. I realize that praying with hope may seem unduly optimistic and pie-in-the-sky. Yet, is this not the way a child comes to their Loving Heavenly Parent and asks? And, am I not described as a child before God? Please, God, help me to embrace that image. Help me to come to You with trust, and love, and hope, just as a child would.

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 72.

[2] Ibid, 73.

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