renewed” by a “zealous attention to prayer

AT RISK CHRISTIANS

 

                        “Prayer is the lifeline of the soul” (Sister Mary Cordero)

                          “Pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17)

In his highly acclaimed Apostolic Letter, Novo Millenio Ineunte, Pope Saint John Paul II talks about “at risk Christians.” These are Christians who, in the midst of an aggressive cultural attack on the very values given to us by Jesus Christ, lack a substantial prayer life. Because they are “at risk Christians” they are liable to succumb to the spirit of the age and the false wisdom of the world (see 1 Cor. 1:20).

Saint John Paul II puts it this way:

… it would be wrong to think that ordinary Christians can be content with a shallow prayer that is unable to fill their whole life. Especially in the face of the many trials of which today’s world subjects faith, they would be not only mediocre Christians but ‘Christians at risk.’ They would run the insidious risk of seeing their faith progressively undermined, and would perhaps end up succumbing to the allure of substitutes….It is therefore essential that education in prayer should become a key-point of all pastoral planning.” (#34)

It seems to me that it would be hard to overemphasize the value and necessity of “simple, humble persevering prayer.” Without devotion to prayer it is highly likely that a Christian will be absorbed into the emerging pagan culture without even realizing it. What a battle we are in!  Moreover, we contend against dark spirits intent on our destruction (see Ephesians 6:12). How are we possibly going to survive such trials without prayer?

A very neglected but great spiritual book is The Christian Life by the German Dominican, Father Albert M. Weiss. On page 83 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.” And on page 81 he discusses how prayer withdraws us from the world and “turns [us] wholly to God.” 

In another great spiritual book, The Spiritual Life, the great Father Lallemant mentions that “Saint Ignatius [of Loyola] in his Constitutions would have us regard this familiar converse with God as the chief instrument of our own salvation and that of our neighbor….” (p. 290).  “Nothing furthers more our spiritual advancement than the time and application we devote…to the interior life.” Let us resolve, then, to spend time in interior conversation with God so that He may “make Himself known unto us.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting that great advocate of prayer, Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri, says:

“Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.” (CCC 2744)

Are you an “at risk” Christian? If so, it is essential that you renew your Christian walk by a deep and zealous attention to prayer. The scriptures say, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Turn your attention often to God in prayer. Prayer is your lifeline to Eternity.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

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YOU WERE MADE FOR PRAYER!

     faith-1352612_1280                             

                                           “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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