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Apr 1, 2019

How Being Thirsty Will Deepen Your Prayer Life

Thomas Smith

If you could define prayer in a single sentence, what would you say? Over the years, I’ve heard some great definitions:

  • “Prayer is a conversation between friends”
  • “Prayer is a dialogue with Deity”
  • “Prayer is resting in the arms of a loving Father”

The best definition for prayer that I have ever heard isn’t even a sentence, but a single word: thirst.

“I thirst”

Prayer is a wellspring where thirsty persons meet to be refreshed and satisfied.

This mutual thirst is captured powerfully in Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). This isn’t just a singular story that occurred 2,000 years ago. The Catechism of the Catholic Church proposes that this is where “Christ comes to meet every human being.” (CCC 2560).

Jesus’s human thirst reflected a deep and divine thirst for us! “Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours” (CCC 2560).

How does that make you feel to know that God thirsts for an encounter with you?

If you’ve ever experienced real thirst, you know how all-consuming it can be. You are laser-focused and determined to find a source of water, above all else. It isn’t a luxury, but essential for your survival.

Do you thirst after time with God in the same way?

Does your commitment to daily prayer reflect your laser-focused commitment to meet him at the well of prayer?

A Lenten Invitation

As we continue this season of Lent, let’s ask for the grace to believe that God truly thirsts for union and communion with us, and that we will be renewed in our commitment, truly thirsty, to meet him in new and transformative ways.

Beside the Well

Father, you sent your son Jesus to reveal the depths of your desire for us. Grant us the grace of a reciprocal thirst in us for you. Help us to abandon all the wells in our life that can never satisfy and rediscover Jesus as the True Living water that alone can satisfy our deepest longings and desires.

Jesus, you not only became thirsty at the well, but from the Cross you cried, “I thirst” (John 19:28). Help us to become living water to others, especially those who suffer, feel abandoned, or who thirst for love and acceptance.

Holy Spirit, like Jesus, you are the Living Water, in the heart that prays. Through your sanctifying presence, may we be truly cleansed and refreshed in Christ.

This article was first published on the Ascension Blog’s former home, The Great Adventure Blog on March 4, 2014.

You May Also Like:

Lent Week 4 – The Life I Wish I Had (podcast)

What’s the Purpose of Lent? (video)

Living Water in the Lenten Desert

About Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is the co-author of Wisdom: God’s Vision for Life,  Revelation: The Kingdom Yet to Come and The Prophets: Messengers of God’s Mercy. He is an international presenter for The Great Adventure Bible Timeline. Bringing a wealth of experience and insight on the Word of God to audiences across the U.S., Thomas is a repeat guest on EWTN and Catholic radio as well as a sought after parish mission and conference speaker. Thomas Smith has taught as an adjunct professor at the St. Francis School of Theology in Denver, and is the former Director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Denver Catechetical School. He lives on his family ranch in southeastern Idaho and writes for his website

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  • This one word, “thirst” brought up a myriad of questions regarding my conversations at the well with God. It seems that when I pray, I am always asking for help! Not that asking is wrong but I seem to forget that my conversations can also include a thank you occasionally. It’s only that I seem to forget that little tidbit.
    While I read what you wrote, I had a feeling that prayer is deeper than I ever thought. It struck me that I am having a conversation with my Almighty Father, my Dad, my support system, and my first love. I am in awe that I am coming to this realization at my advanced age! What a revelation! What a last minute present to find and open! What a happy day for me!
    I will look upon my conversations by the well with God (my prayers) as a break in my day whereby I experience having a cool sip of water while I talk to Our Lord, My God as the refreshing sip of cool water soothes the body and soul.

  • God is truly in all the world and in each one of our lives! This Lenten season the theme of water has been a constant theme for me. I have been helping to prepare a ladies retreat for the first weekend in May, and the theme for the retreat is the Living Water. The scripture is John 4:1-32, the woman at the well. So water, living water and thirst have been a real focus for me as I, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, write a prayer for us to begin the retreat. Water is also a recurring theme in scripture. I have been reading the many references to water and one that just feeds my soul is in Ezekiel 47:1-12. I remember being at the Church of the Beatitudes in Galilee and the way the black tiles came away from the altar looking like flowing water and this scripture comes to mind too. Then as we are completing our Lenten journey and look forward to Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday following Easter; the image of the ocean of mercy that Christ has for us, how He Thirsts for our souls! Who can deny Him? And yet don’t we deny Him every day when we look for the living water in worldly cisterns? We will not find Him in the traps of the world but when we come and sit at the “living water”, at the well. and dialog with Jesus, praising Him, adoring Him, thanking Him; then we are ready to be filled with the “living water” that quenches our thirst. Then perhaps we can join with Jesus and thirst for others souls.

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