Jesus, the personal assistant who never fails

While I’m lying in bed in the morning, halfway between sleeping and waking, I say, “Good morning, Jesus,” which is how St. Teresa of Calcutta began her day. I believe it’s best to learn from the best.

From then, it’s all downhill because I start to think about what the day ahead has in store for me, and my response can vary from anxiety to anticipation and outright terror. You never know what a new day will bring. I suppose I have to work on trusting Jesus more and take a page out of St. Faustina Kowalska’s book and pray, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

Somewhat compulsively, I start mentally cataloging what I have to do—the dentist needs to replace a worn crown, I have to grade 52 tests, the dog needs to go to the vet for surgery. (My wife says I’m more afraid than the dog, and she’s right.)

During those early moments, when I’m previewing the upcoming events, which have the potential to turn into full-blown crises, I turn to Jesus dozens of times for backup. “Jesus, help me because I have to get those papers corrected. Jesus, help me, may Bella be all right.

Jesus, help me finish this project on time. Jesus, are you listening?!?” Of course, he’s always listening, but I ask just to remind myself, not him.

This pattern continues throughout the day. “Jesus, may that check arrive. Jesus, may this meeting go well. Jesus…” The good thing is that I know he doesn’t get tired of listening to me, the way some other family members do.

However, when I think about this nonstop petitioning and pleading, which I call “prayer,” I’m a bit embarrassed because it seems like I’m turning Jesus into my personal assistant. Do this, do that, don’t forget this, I really need you to do that.

I’m also embarrassed because I seem to be always asking for something. How selfish, how narcissistic. It reminds me of when my daughters were kids and repeatedly came to me with requests…which they still do as adults. “Dad, can you pick up my car at the garage? Dad, run out and get a pizza. Dad…” You get the idea.

But back to Jesus.

First of all, he’s infinitely older and infinitely wiser than we are, so I think he’s pleased when we ask him for help, especially when we pray for someone else’s needs. Plus, he’s not thin-skinned, which means to say he understands human nature and our seemingly insignificant needs.

At the same time, I’m absolutely convinced he appreciates an occasional thank you for everything he does, so lately I’ve been trying to sprinkle gratitude in my daily prayers.

“Thank you, Lord, for another day.” “Thank you for my family, most of the time.” “Thank you for my friends because I realize you gave each of them to me for a specific reason.”

I help them, they help me, and together we grow spiritually as we move toward salvation… even that annoying friend, who is helping me learn to be patient and tolerant.

In addition to my prayers of petition and thanksgiving, there’s another prayer I say, which goes something like this: “Jesus, how’s your day going? Is there anything I can do to help?”

Believe me, you don’t have to ask twice. He’ll answer that prayer almost immediately.

I’m beginning to think that’s the most important prayer of all. Whenever I read news stories about global atrocities, disdain for God, violence in the cause of righteousness, and the pandemic of hatred, I think that Jesus must still weep over this sad and sorry world. He must be as discouraged in his humanity as when he walked the Earth. So, I pray, “Jesus let me help. Show me how.”

To me, this is a way of turning my will and life over to God, which is the greatest gift we can give him. When we do that, he can use us in ways we least expect.

We don’t even have to search for opportunities because he’ll bring them to us…the same way he brought that person to me who had a kind word after I pleaded, “Jesus, help me.”

That person was the answer to my prayer, and you can be the answer to another person’s prayer.