Are you leading a quiet and tranquil life? We hear in the second reading, “First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.” I want you to think about that for a moment.
Do you lead a quiet and tranquil life? What is a tranquil life? If we would look it up in the dictionary, tranquil would say “free from disturbances and calm.” Are you free from disturbances and calm? Chances are that you are not because a lot of us are not. Here are some other similar words: peaceful, restful, reposeful, calm, quiet, still, serene, relaxing, soothing, undisturbed, pleasant, relaxed, at peace. All of these describe what it means to live a tranquil life.
We are actually called to live a calm and tranquil life. Not all the time, of course, but for the majority of our lives, we should experience some calm, some peace and some tranquility. The question probably is what if I am not? What if I am not experiencing a calm and tranquil life? I love that St. Paul gives us these four types of prayer: supplication, prayers, petitions and thanksgiving.
These should be offered for everyone, including kings and all in authority. We should pray for kings. In America, that would probably be our president, congress and for those people that are in authority. In our church, we should pray for church leaders. In our family, pray for our parents. We need to pray for whoever it is that is in authority and has the ability to help make our life both quiet and tranquil or a living hell. They can do one or the other. But we are going to pray that we can experience quiet and tranquil living.
If we were to look up supplications in the Catechism (all of these prayers can kind of go together), we realize that they are prayers that we offer to God, and they take on different forms. The Catechism describes the types of supplication: ask, beseech, plead, invoke, intrigued, cry out and even struggle in prayer. I am going to say those again because that is pretty powerful. This is what it means to pray in supplication.
Ask – First of all, are you asking God for peace and tranquility in your life and for your leaders? Beseech – You are seeking it out and desiring it. Plead – That is often taken from the sound of a lamb that is bleating. Sometimes prayer is like begging and pleading over and over. It is almost just a groaning or a crying out, to invoke, entreat, crying out and then even struggle in prayer. So, if you are not leading a quiet and tranquil life, are you at least doing these things in prayer? Are you allowing yourself to cry out, to plead and to struggle in all these different forms of supplication?
The second prayer that is offered is just prayers, and prayers are basically vocal prayers. It is using our voice speaking to God and asking God. One of the ways this can be done is by actually speaking out loud. It is asking God out loud. He can hear your prayers – vocal prayer. It is important that when we pray we use our voice, and that we pray aloud before God.
Again, if your life is not quiet and tranquil, try praying aloud to God. It is one thing that we talk in our heads and in our minds to God. But just as God spoke and “the word became flesh,” when we speak our word becomes flesh. It becomes real.
Try speaking out loud to God and I might even encourage you, if you are really feeling stuck, really feeling not quiet and not tranquil and actually the opposite, you might have to scream above the noise. Literally go somewhere where you can scream, or go to your room and scream into your pillow. Better go outside and scream out to God into His creation. Scream to the sky. Scream to the heavens. Really go out and scream to Him. Use your voice in terms of praying. That is the first type of prayer – vocal prayer.
The next is petitions and I am going to look that up in the Catechism. Prayer of petition is another form of supplication. In petition, we express an awareness of our relationship with God. We are the creatures who are not our own beginning and not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father.
Our petition is already turning back to Him. Our life might not be good. Our life may not be peaceful or tranquil because of some sin in our life. We can cause our own misery. I invite you to think about that. Is there any sin in your own life that needs to be confessed? Let this prayer of petition be an asking of God to forgive you of your sin but also to remove the consequences of your sin.
So say, “Father, please, I am so sorry for the sin that I have been doing, and the sin I have been struggling with. I am sorry for it. Can you please remove the sin from my life and also, if you could most graciously, remove the consequences of sin. Petition is also asking God for our needs. It is placing our needs out before Him – really asking Him and begging Him to have that peace and that calm in your life.
The final form of prayer is thanksgiving, that we actually just thank God for what is going well in our life. Even though our life seems crazy and chaotic, chances are we experience some calm, some quiet and some tranquility. Thank God for that.
All four of these types of prayer are ways that we can pray not only for ourselves but also for all those in authority to help us to live lives that are quiet and tranquil. Who does not want just a little more of that?