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Thursday, February 18, 2016

St. John Chrysostom on the Power of Prayer

 St. John Chrysostom on the Power of Prayer

Those who know God and trust in God's love, pray with great boldness. Listen to what St. John Chrysostom (347-407 AD), a gifted preacher and bishop of Constantinople, had to say about the power of prayer:

"Prayer is an all-efficient panoply [i.e. 'a full suit of armor' or 'splendid array'], a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, and the mother of a thousand blessings. It exceeds a monarch's power... I speak not of the prayer which is cold and feeble and devoid of zeal. I speak of that which proceeds from a mind outstretched, the child of a contrite spirit, the offspring of a soul converted - this is the prayer which mounts to heaven... The power of prayer has subdued the strength of fire, bridled the rage of lions, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. In sum prayer has power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good."

Prayer flows from the love of God; and the personal love we show to our neighbor is fueled by the love that God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus concludes his discourse on prayer with the reminder that we must treat our neighbor in the same way we wish to be treated by God. We must not just avoid doing harm to our neighbor, we must actively seek his or her welfare. In doing so, we fulfill the scriptural teaching from the "law and the prophets," namely what God requires of us - loving God with all that we have and loving our neighbor as ourselves. The Holy Spirit is ever ready to change our hearts and transform our lives in Jesus' way of love and merciful kindness towards all. Do you thirst for holiness and for the fire of God's purifying love?
"Let me love you, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am - a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and my enemies. Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out towards others." (Prayer attributed to Clement XI of Rome, 1721)