In this very short note I will set forth (in a condensed and edited form) five important thoughts or considerations about the power of prayer as discussed by Father Paul O’Sullivan in his excellent book on prayer, How to be Happy – How to be Holy. Here, then, are the five considerations:
#1. Father O’Sullivan says that “the first clear idea we must have when praying” is “that we are talking to God in the most real and true sense of that word…nothing is more certain.” In short, don’t forget you are talking to God!!
#2. “The second great thought” in prayer “is that God has bound himself most solemnly to hear our prayers. It is quite certain that we never send up a prayer to God lovingly and confidently that He does not hear, and that does not bring us a great grace in return.”
#3. “A third truth which we must bear in mind is that every prayer we say with reverence and trust gives God immense glory and pleasure. What a joy it should be to feel that we are giving real joy to God. God does not only love us, but He most earnestly desires our love and affection in return.” In short, when you pray you honor God!
#4. “Fourthly, our prayers obtain for us many important graces and blessings which we shall never get and never enjoy if we do not ask for them. Is a Christian not a madman if he omits his prayers?”
#5. “Happiness is God’s greatest gift, for it embraces what is best for us. Why do men not ask God for happiness? There is no better, no surer way of attaining happiness, than by praying for it.” True, “no one can avoid suffering,” but “when God permits suffering He always helps us to bear it. He always gives us a grace, a strength, a consolation which enables us to bear the cross He sends us.” Therefore, “real peace and happiness God and God alone can give and gives to all who ask Him for it in prayer.”
CONCLUSION: What a powerful gift prayer is! “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice rise like a fountain for me night and day” (Alfred Lord Tennyson). As Saint Vincent Pallotti once wrote: “Prayer is the infallible means to obtain from God everything we need or desire” (Yearnings of a Soul, p.109).
References: Pages 2-7 of How to be Happy – How to be Holy (TAN BOOKS). If you fall into mortal sin, Saint Vincent Pallotti urges us to pray with the eagerness to regain sanctifying grace (normally through sacramental confession), and with deep sorrow for our sins, or for the grace to obtain this sorrow” (p.112). Humility is always a fundamental component of a well-made prayer.
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