Fantasy “transformers” are usually robots or other creatures that make radical shape-changing and other drastic modifications from one form into another. The most common real-life transformers are those that take very high-voltage electricity and change it to the level that is usable in our homes and places of work. We are not likely to think much about electrical transformers because our interests are in the practical results that give us electricity for our many uses, not in the process that makes changes to electrical current so that it will serve our local needs. If the power goes off because of a faulty or damaged transformer, we might for a time be mindful of their importance, but our main interest is in their replacement, not their function.
There are other transformers in our lives that bring necessary power to us, that we might not ordinarily think about. Praying, for example, transforms the movements in our minds and hearts from being focused entirely on ourselves and on our needs and desires, to trust and also to love. We usually begin from our present felt concerns and, in whatever form of prayer we choose, we find ourselves moving on to a healing and helpful connection with God. We go from being alone in our needs, hurting perhaps, or angry, and are changed as we become aware that God is indeed with us in the midst of whatever we are experiencing. Or we have hearts filled with gratitude and joy that must be shared, and find that God is wholly present in our thoughts and feelings. Authentic prayer, which involves more than merely saying words, always transforms us from being only within ourselves to experiencing relationship with God.
The transforming power of prayer originates not in us, but in God. We can reflect on what that means, and so come to a deeper appreciation of our capacity to receive the equivalent of “higher voltage,” and more “power” than before. In prayer we can, with conscious thought, make our connection with the transformer, and ask that the source of all power, the very Spirit of God that cannot be contained, give us that level of power that matches the present needs of our weak and limited humanity. We want to engage the source of love so that our own small thoughts, words and deeds will flow with that share of the infinite supply that is appropriate for us.
When we ask the source of all power to share with us in some of our needs and concerns, whether great or small, many or few, we have reason to hope. We do not have to be careful in our requests and contacts, as if we could only make “three wishes.” The supply is unlimited. The only restriction is that we not relate with the power of Love as if we were “entitled” or were capable of transforming this power for our own purposes. We are not the source; we are on the receiving end of utterly free gifts.
God is love. Whenever we refer to this source, no matter what our initial movement, request, sharing, thought or feeling, we always receive love, completely adapted to our particular circumstances at each given moment. The more clear we are about the kind of power we ultimately seek in prayer, the better our connection and the more freely the current flows into us and through us to others.
Transformers and prayer: a metaphor.
Father Randy Roche, SJ, Director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality, has an M.A. in Theology from Santa Clara University and an M.S. in Counseling from San Diego State. He has served as LMU Director of Campus Ministry, Rector of the Jesuit Community at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, Director of Studies and Spiritual Director at the Jesuit Novitiate, and as Pastor, Superior, and Director of Diocesan Campus Ministry at the Newman Center in Honolulu.
Throughout his years of ministry, he has continuously deepened his own experience of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, while also acting as a guide in the Exercises for lay people and religious. Not surprisingly, his specialty is Ignatian spirituality as a tool for discernment in decision-making.