Hunting for God


As a priest speaking to people that no longer go to church to pray, I am often told some variation of why they do not need to go to church to pray. They hunt, they fish, they spend time in the wilderness, and in the quiet. It is in these moments that they speak to God. I would not deny them the goodness of what they are saying. Quiet moments out in creation are often wonderful moments in which we can speak to the living God. The Old Testament is full of those mountain top encounters with this same God. From the very beginning we hear an implication that God would be with Adam and Eve as he was “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8). In this instance they hid themselves from the Lord. Whether in a church or in a “garden” we can all hide our hearts from the Lord. As we should know, they are not really hidden from Him.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a wonderful section on prayer which I would encourage anyone from any walk of life to read through. In paragraph 2567 it says, “Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer.” This mysterious encounter is a response we make to the God who first reaches out to us. The response is both in word and deed. Scripture is full of examples of this response, and this is why reading the Scriptures can teach us how to pray.

The story of salvation moves from a single man and his family to a people of God called Israel. Then Jesus unites Jew and Gentile and calls the apostles to bring the whole world into this one family. To briefly answer the question of why prayer in church is important, it is because corporate prayer seems just as important to God as individual prayer. They are not two things in conflict, but things that nourish each other. Further, we will not be praising God by ourselves in heaven, so why would we think that we should only do it by ourselves on earth. It might be annoying to some or to all that we have to deal with other people, but God seems to find this idea of communion important. Communion with others takes the idea of love and turns it into a reality that can lead us to the cross. On the cross we can find Christ. Happy hunting!

Fr. Jonas A. Shell

Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy in Carrollton

St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception in Morges

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