“Pray without ceasing” (1. Thes. 5:17)
Mark these words as so true and so important that they should be engraved in your mind and in your heart and possibly even tattooed to your hand so that you don’t forget them: – the decline of supernatural life begins when you start neglecting prayer. When prayer is completely abandoned you have simply returned to “the world” for your comfort and repose. You were made for prayer, and the language of the soul is prayer. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
But do we have time to “be still” and be in the presence of God, to talk to Him and to listen to Him, and to make our needs known to Him? As a flower needs water and sunshine, we need prayer. And so it is incalculably harmful to us when we consciously or unconsciously make the decision not to pray, and thus put up a barrier between ourselves and our true happiness: a personal relationship with our God and Eternal Father. Oh Holy Spirit, give me a renewed and zealous attention to prayer; give me the grace to see the incalculable power of prayer; help me to see with Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri that those who pray shall be saved (see CCC 2744).
Therefore, we must be committed to prayer. It is akin to spiritual suicide not to pray. Prayer should be the very foundation of our lives as we grow closer and closer to God. And if we are in need of a certain virtue, say, for example, patience, or chastity, or the grace to pray better, we must relentlessly ask God for this grace in prayer. “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matt. 7:7).
Why is prayer so important, other than it being the very basis of your loving relationship with God? Here are two reasons:
1. Prayer directs our attention away from the passing things of this world (that so distract us) and toward God: in Whom all our happiness consists. Prayer, then, is a profound remedy against worldliness, since it augments our union with God.
2. In God’s Providential direction of the universe He has ordained that we should pray to Him, and He continually gives us actual graces to pray when we would rather not. Father Hardon comments:
“And what is the primary source of grace that we always have at our disposal? It is prayer. *** Why? Because part of the divine plan, which is what providence means, is that we should obtain many of the things we need only by asking God to grant them.” [Thus], “we have no choice; either we pray or we do not get the divine light and strength we need.”
I know that there are good reasons for not missing American Idol, or Hannity, or the Lions, or the 10 PM news, or playing that video game upon which relies the world’s safety from terrorism, but rest assured that it is a great mismanagement of our time to neglect prayer. Oh Happy Day when we understand this!
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
Sources: I am relying primarily on Father Weiss. On Page 83 of The Christian Life by the German Dominican, Father Albert M. Weiss, he talks about how “the decline of the supernatural life begins…with…the neglect of prayer.” He explains that this loss can only be “renewed” by a “zealous attention to prayer.” On page 80 he talks about the “incalculable…power of prayer.” On Page 81 he discusses how prayer withdraws us from the world and “turns [us] wholly to God.” You can see, then, that I have used these words of Father Weiss in several places in this note. Are you looking for a remarkable spiritual book?: get his book! I am not picking on any particular TV show, but I am suggesting that television and other electronic media often distract us from prayer (which should be a priority).
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Prayer is as necessary for the soul as food and water are to the body. We cannot grow in a love relationship with the Lord without prayer any more than we can grow in a relationship with anyone without conversing with that person. We get to know one another in conversation. We come to know the Lord in that conversation that is prayer along with the reading of Scripture. We definitely need to make a commitment to spending time in prayer every day. Without this spiritual food, we will grow weak and fall by the wayside.
Judy, Getting up to do my morning meditation. Don’t feel like it…but your words inspire me! Thanks. Tom