With the coming of the new year, there’s no denying that sundry wishes and high hopes are again sprouting aplenty, ranging from the most trivial to the grandiose, even to the bizarre.
The new year—or every new year, for that matter—offers no guarantee of smooth sailing. But it’s our natural inclination to crave what we perceive as better things, warts and all.
Hopeful or not, is it plausible for us to manifest or realize our deep wishes and prayers for the new year?
In my mind, two things come to the fore: believing and praying.
Not just desiring
Believing (or faith) is the foundation for making things happen. It has become a miracle worker for a multitude of believers—causing people to be cured and enabling others to climb the ladder of success and get phenomenal results.
Believing is not just desiring. Nor does it emanate from our fancy urges and cravings. It is more than our feelings and emotions.
Believing is not just thinking or rationalizing. Thinking can lead to more thinking and, therefore, to more questions. Believing is not more thinking; it is beyond thinking.
True believing—the one that can make miracles happen—involves our whole being. It is a firm, deep-seated, positive conviction that powers the fiber of our being. It is believing with all our mind, heart and soul.
In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said: “If we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can say to a mountain to move from here to there.”
Expression of faith
Now, you simply don’t stop at believing in order to manifest your wishes and desires for the new year.
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” or so it’s said. If believing is your internal foundation, prayer is the actual expression or affirmation of your faith.
Even if you do have an internal assent of believing (or trusting) in God, or even if God certainly already knows all your needs, the act of praying is still plausibly imperative, for it not only shows your “helplessness” before God but, more so, concretizes your assent or response of “Yes” to God’s saving power—and God is surely delighted.
St. Augustine cannot be more correct when he declared, “God cannot save us without us”—that is, without our free consent and willingness.
Prayer, hence, is likewise a “sine qua non” or the necessary condition to our making miracles happen in the new year.
Prayer is not just lifting to God our petitions. According to Fr. Richard Rohr, modern-day mystic and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, “prayer is not simply making announcements to God about what we need but, more importantly, it is experiencing or embracing God’s supernatural presence in us, in our thoughts and actions, in our surroundings, in our relationships with others, in everything.”
Lastly, prayer is not a stand-alone. Prayer without action is passivity. There are those who simply pray and expect an answer even without doing something about what they are praying for. This is blind acquiescence.
Thus, prayer should not stand by itself: It should be coupled with appropriate action to win God’s grace.
Fathers Hugh Barbour and Sebastian Walshe, in their book “Twenty Answers: Prayer,” got it right when they said, “God, in his wisdom and providence, has determined that there are many things that will be brought about by prayer. Prayer is thus an instrument of God’s supreme causality; that is, prayer is a way that God makes things happen with our cooperation. When we pray and are encouraged to do so by God, it is with this awareness.”
Hurray to New Year 2023! Let’s believe, pray, act—and manifest our cherished dreams and desires!
Bob Acebedo writes a column in the weekly OpinYon (http://opinyon.net) —Ed.