Bishop Robert J. Baker has written a new book, “The Questioners Prayer,” published by Our Sunday Visitor. Rev. Mr. Jeffrey Kirby, a seminarian at the North American College in Rome, wrote a review.
As Catholics, we affirm our belief in God’s goodness and in his loving plan for each one of us. It’s an easy creed to hold when everything is going well for us, our loved ones and our society. But how do we approach and try to understand the Virginia Tech shootings, Hurricane Katrina, church scandals or the attacks on the World Trade Center?
As believers, how do we comprehend and find meaning in these tragedies, and in personal struggles, failures, losses, serious illnesses, family or relational problems, financial set-backs and human weaknesses? These situations can shake our beliefs and cause us to have some questions for God.
Bishop Robert J. Baker wants to take believers and their questions and gently show them the way to good answers. In his recently published book, “The Questioner’s Prayer,” the bishop desires to offer some guidance. He writes, “My intention in this book is to help people bring those questions to God in prayer and to remind them how the questioner’s prayer, with a little help from God and the intercession of the Blessed Mother, can become a prayer of faith.”
As a theologian, spiritual writer, and pastor of souls, the bishop is able to give a diverse and integrated presentation of the questions and the path to answers. He begins by observing that in difficult moments it is understandable that people will ask serious questions about life and faith.
The person will seek meaning and purpose in the tragedies and sorrowful events. Bishop Baker writes: “Isn’t that what faith is all about? It is the starting point for our encounter with God, and often, it begins with a question.” He continues by explaining that only in asking the questions and searching for answers can a person truly move on and grow in faith, hope and love.
Using the life of Christ, the bishop demonstrates this point and emphasizes the importance of asking questions. He shows that Jesus was always open to questions and that some of the greatest lessons from the Gospel were given in response to sincere questions.
Bishop Baker elaborates that there are two different ways of asking questions. One way approaches God in faith and prayer, while the other approaches the Lord with despair and resistance.
God certainly welcomes all questions, but the bishop shows that the person who asks their questions with openness and hope will be better able to hear the answers which God gives.
The bishop organizes the possible questions we have for God into six general categories: Why? How? When? What? Where? And Who? These groups form the headings of the book’s six chapters.
Bishop Baker addresses these different categories of questions, and then, using different pastoral experiences, seeks to explain them in the light of faith.
Concluding the work, Bishop Baker stresses the importance of prayer. He emphasizes that we need to ask our questions of God in prayer.
He observes that some people will say that questioning God suggests a lack of faith, but he writes, “These reflections attempt to point out just the contrary: it’s failing to ask God a question when one is dealing with a difficulty in life that may reflect a lack of faith.”
In this book, and in his ministry, Bishop Baker offers us a treasury of spiritual insight and counsel. He desires to help us, and all believers, who are in difficult moments. In “The Questioner’s Prayer,” the bishop gently provides some guidance and encouragement to everyone who asks questions and sincerely seeks answers.
To order “The Questioner’s Prayer” by Bishop Robert J. Baker (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 2007, 93 pp. $9.95) visit your local Catholic bookstore.