Ten lepers were cured. Only one returned to give thanks. When we fall victim to entitlement, we diminish our capacity to love. Never satisfied, we walk around with outstretched arms, eagerly searching for the next thing we want so that we can acquire it ourselves. Very rarely do entitled hands hold anything to freely give away to others. Entitled hands also find it challenging to reach toward heaven in a gesture of gratitude and praise. We are often more obsessed with celebrating our victories, securing our assets, safeguarding our futures, and stacking the deck of life in our favor rather than relishing and absorbing the gift of the moment and blessings received.
Entitled people find it difficult to pray properly. When the subject of our prayer is mostly about our needs and wants, we are falling into the trap of deception. We foolishly try to convince God that our tiny worlds are of greater importance than His. In ancient times, people would offer sacrifices to “the gods” to secure protection and favors. Our God desires mercy, not sacrifice, because He is about love and justice, not simply meeting our agendas. Every breath is a gift. Prayer, which is a celebration of that gift, acknowledges the Giver. Prayer strengthens the bond between Giver and receiver, creating a deepening awareness that nothing I am or anything I have can exist apart from His Divine Will. It also reminds us that we have done nothing to merit the unconditional love and mercy God showers upon us. Prayer is not just about getting what I need but celebrating who I am.
For St. Therese of Lisieux prayer is “a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” When our hearts “surge” toward God, we rush to the Source of our restoration and wholeness, knowing our longing for God’s Divine embrace. Prayer is a response to God’s graciousness with an act of gratitude returned by us. In prayer, we gaze upon each other in that sacred space where I give myself to God as He is, and God gives Himself to me as I am. We cannot take another step without saying thank you.