The Most Important Thanksgiving Prayer

The Last SupperHey Catholics! The tryptophan turkey coma is totally awesome and we’re all looking forward to it. (I, for one, will be dozing on the couch, remote in hand, praying for the Cowboys to beat the tar out of the Eagles.)

But let’s not forget that the Church gives us a thanksgiving feast every day.

Even though it had nothing to do with pilgrims or surviving on a new continent, you could say that the Last Supper was, in a way, the first great Thanksgiving feast.

In Greek, the word for “thanksgiving” or “giving thanks” is eucharistia. Sound familiar? Yup. The Eucharist is a thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to the coming smorgasbord today just as much as everybody, but there’s nothing for which we should be more grateful than the gift that Christ makes available to us every day on the altar in the Mass.

So as we ready ourselves for a holiday with family and friends say a fervent prayer of thanks to God for the great gift he always makes available – himself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lessons from Lost Boys: What Peter Pan Can Teach Us About Prayer

My 12 year old daughter Maisie Tinkerbell and Peter Panjust finished a three night run as Tinkerbell in the musical Peter Pan Jr.

I’m apparently becoming quite sentimental because I teared up the moment she took the stage. (I haven’t cried that much since Dennis Quaid struck out Royce Clayton in “The Rookie.” She was awesome!) But what really struck me in the program were the Lost Boys.

As we all know, the Lost Boys never grow up. In fact, they decidedly don’t want to grow up. Better to stay in Neverland where life is footloose and fancy free than become an overworked, stressed out adult. (Some of you probably have a Lost Boy living in your basement right now.)

Truth be told, this notion of eternal youth resonates with all of us at some level. While few of us desire to return to Jr. High, the responsibilities of adult life seem to crowd out the joy we once had as children.

The good news is that Christ tells us we shouldn’t grow up. “Unless you turn and become like children,” he says, “you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:3)

Of course, this doesn’t mean never showering or leaving your underwear on the floor (issues more associated with one gender more than another). Rather, we need to recover our identity as children of God.

We were made for the divine family of God. That’s our destiny. Becoming a true child of God who lives a life of trust in His perfect Father is what a joyful Catholic life is all about.

How do we do that? Well, one of the key ways is prayer. In fact, the only prayer Christ taught us to pray was the Our Father. Its whole point is to help us turn our eyes upon God and learn to see him as our Daddy; to give of ourselves to him and let him lead us by the hand. And the reward is way more than an endless playdate with unruly ragamuffins. It’s the eternal life of inconceivable bliss surrounded by saints and angels in the real Neverland – heaven!

And speaking of heaven… if you haven’t yet done so already, don’t forget to sign up in the form to the right to grab a free download of my talk “Writing Straight With Crooked Lines: How God Saves You Even When You’ve Been Really Bad.” Trust me when I say it probably goes a direction you don’t expect!

In Prayer, the Waiting is the Hardest Part

I think a lot about rocker Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Why? Because whenever I’m praying for something that has not yet seem to be answered, I’m always reminded of his lyric “The waiting is the hardest part,” from his famous song “The Waiting.”

Matt packing

That’s me in the 90s…packing up.

Patience is hard. Really hard! In fact, I’ll tell you right now that it’s one of the things I struggle with on a regular basis. I’m a ‘git r done’ kind of guy, and when things aren’t happening it drives me nuts. Of course, this applies to prayer. In fact, when it’s something really important, lack of immediate action can be scary.

I’ll never forget when I was 26 years old sitting in the living room of my high rise apartment wondering where I was going to go…literally. I was surrounded by boxes as it was the last day of my lease. My roommate had already left the building with Elvis and I had no idea where I was even going to spend that night. In prayer, I had discerned that moving was the right course of action, but I was freaking out. “God! What’s up with this? My name isn’t Abraham. It’s Matt. Tell me where I’m going.” It was crazy.

There’s a whole lot more to the story which I’ll probably tell in my next book, but the super short version is that my brother-in-law showed up and invited me to move in with him. In fact, he said he really felt in prayer the Lord had instructed him to have me come to his home. Boy, was I grateful! I stayed with him for three months before I found myself on a mountain in Guatemala preparing for the next phase of my life…but that’s another story.

The moral of the story (aside from remembering it’s a good idea to know where you’re moving to) is that patience is a virtue. And we need to cultivate it in our lives. St. Teresa of Avila says, “Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.”

So try not to worry or wonder if God is going to come through. Have trust and patience. He always answers prayers. Realize that even though it may drive us crazy, God’s timing isn’t our timing. He’s never late, but he’s never early, either. In the big picture, he’s always right on time.

Have a story about when God came through for you at what you thought was the last moment? Leave a comment and tell me about it.

God bless!