Prayer is conversation with God, and it is God who initiates the conversation. That does not mean that we should wait until God starts speaking inside our heads. He is always speaking, calling to us, drawing us to prayer. He speaks to our hearts. We begin to hear Him when we become more aware of our need for Him. This is where prayer begins: when our hearts cry out, “Lord, have mercy on me!”
We always need mercy, but the awareness of that need arises and intensifies when we are suffering. One of the things that has helped me to see the mercy of God at work in my own suffering is the fact that it has forced me to shut up and listen. The “ear of the heart” that hears God has a very simple shape.
The cry of that heart is also simple: “Help. Have mercy on me. I need You.” We may not be able to articulate these words, but that inward groaning that seeks Him is the foundational response to the love He is continually offering to us.
We are so dear to God in our weakness. He is so close to us when we are suffering. He lifts us closer to Him if we allow Him to enter inside of that need that groans within us. He shapes us, in His way, and in His time.
--published in Magnificat, May 2013
John Janaro is the author of Never Give Up: My Life and God's Mercy, a book which has brought strength and help to many who suffer from physical or mental illness, and others who struggle with the trials of ordinary life.