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What Prayer Does Not Dare to Ask

By: Debra Black on July 4th, 2024

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What Prayer Does Not Dare to Ask

Hope  |  prayer  |  catholic family life


Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you great things beyond the reach of your knowledge. (Jeremiah 33:3) 

Tasting, touching, hearing, seeing, smelling … I learned of the five senses as a small child but could never have imagined how integral these are in our life. Our senses play an active part in the creation of memories and can trigger those memories too. The lyrics and mood created by songs often reflect our emotions, attitude, and perspective at a certain stage of our life. Scents of certain foods might remind us of special meals or celebrations—for me, rainy days always remind me of my mom’s baking. Family photos evoke visual memories that also bring forth with them sensations and emotions.  

Unfortunately, uncomfortable memories can also arise. Silence, in particular, can trigger these. For some people, silence is what occurred after a parent blew up in uncontrolled rage while the family froze in fear. Or it may represent the loneliness felt when excluded by peers. It is common to subconsciously fill one’s life with noise to avoid silence. In the old days, people would leave their TV or radio running all the time. Now people live with earbuds always in place, ready to fill the mind with noise.  


Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy. (Joshua 5:15) 


The fear of sitting in silence with God can be quite real. Just as looking into a broken mirror reflects a skewed version of our appearance, our perspective of God, and ourselves The idea of silent prayer is a bit skewed by the shattered parts of the heart. It can be difficult to understand that this time and place spent in God’s company is sacred. It is unlike being in an empty house or alone in a room because we are not alone nor is our prayer space empty. It is a place where we can ask God to give us “what prayer does not dare to ask” (The Collect of the Mass). Don’t be afraid to join Him in that spiritual space where you can talk heart-to-Heart. Enraptured by His love, you will not notice the absence of noise.  




The difficulty is entering into this ‘reality’. Beginning mental prayer with Scripture, spiritual reading, or a devotion can help one to ease into this quiet, sacred space with Him. The authors of our Catechism put it quote poetically:

To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2706)


Your quest for God, and for the understanding of how to live in accord with His Will, will be guided by the Holy Spirit “along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus” (CCC 2707).   

You are never alone in the silence. Rather, you will be brought into the ongoing exchange of love between Our Father, Our Savior, and their Holy Spirit. Over time, not only will your shattered heart be whole again. You will have new memories of the heart. 




Just as my mom delighted in seeing my delight over her fresh-baked cowboy cookies, God delights in seeing our delight in His gifts. Sometimes it is the smallest of these, the momentary ‘felt’ realization of His affection, that can be the most profound.   

Enter into the silence, and make memories with your Father.   

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.


About Debra Black

Debra Black is a spiritual director, perpetual member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, international educator, and businesswoman. Her public service roles have spanned city commissioner, pregnancy clinic board of directors, youth and college ministry, public citizen activism, and homeless street ministry. Her writings can be found at TheFaceOfGraceProject.com, including her latest books, The Life Confession: A Discovery of God’s Mercy and Love and Kick Butt: The Quick Guide to Spiritual Warfare.