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Take risks!

This article is the fourth in a five-part series on prayer, particularly for Advent, from Father Michael Voithofer, pastor of St. Benedict the Moor Parish in Omaha and leader of two prayer ministries: Ablaze Worship Ministry and a local campus of Encounter School of Ministry. Look for further teachings already posted and yet to come.

A person who asks bold things of God must also act boldly.

As disciples, we follow the example of Jesus and pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, says Father Voithofer.

And in following the promptings, we must be willing to take risks, he said.

“If you say to someone ‘I love you,’ that’s a risk, because they could reject you,” he said. “God took a risk. He said ‘I love you.’ He became one of us. He died on the cross. He suffered a lot.

“But God actually believes in us. He believes so much in our goodness, our capacity for goodness, that he took the risk to come into our world, knowing some would reject him but hopefully all would receive him. He still comes, still wants to love, still wants to pour out.”

The Blessed Mother and St. Joseph are models, especially in Advent, for acting boldly and taking risks, especially in the way they relinquished control to God in the events of the Incarnation, Father Voithofer said. “There were a lot of unknowns for them.”

And, like them,  we’re also called to be humble and responsive to God’s promptings, he said.

“I think sometimes we – maybe not consciously – but we kind of stiff arm God, like ‘I got this, I’m going to do this.’”

“Are you following the promptings of the Holy Spirit – at Walmart, at Costco, at Target, at Hy-Vee, wherever you’re at?”

“This is huge because, to me, this is what revolutionizes the life of a disciple,” he said. “A disciple who’s not listening is not going to have a very exciting life as a disciple.

“And I would say this, if you’re not listening, you’re going to get really tired as a disciple. You’re not going to see many fruits because effective evangelization is directly related to how I’m listening to God lead me.

“That goes back to asking: Ask, seek, knock, and the door will be open. It doesn’t say it might be open. It says the door will be open.”

The way to pray during Advent and throughout the year is “asking, waiting, letting God be love, letting God be born in me,” Father Voithofer said.

The Christmas moment of our prayers is “when God comes through,” sometimes in unexpected ways, the ways he chooses to love us, he said. 

Receiving a gift from God requires openness and faith, he said, … “being vulnerable to God’s care for you.”

“This is my own personal way of expressing what faith means to me right now. … I’m going to cry out to God. Then I’m going to wait. A lot of times people don’t wait.”

Father Voithofer likens the waiting required in prayer to waiting for a baby to be born or waiting for cookies to finish baking. “You can’t speed up the process. … Everything in life involves some sort of waiting if it’s actually going to be worth our time.”

Waiting in prayer, however, doesn’t mean being inactive.

“Human nature has to cooperate with grace,” Father Voithofer said. “So I’m not going to pull the trigger. I’m not going to execute a decision until I know that the Lord is calling me to take that step.”

Click here for part 1!

Click here for part 2!

Click here for part 3!