To Pray or not to Pray ...This is the question
"Ask and you shall receive that your joy may be made full." (Jn. XVI. 24) Thus our Lord speaks so clearly to His Apostles that one can only wonder what is wrong with us. The greatest power the world has ever known has told us to pray "in His Name" and it shall
be done. There is no doubt that our prayer lives have fallen off greatly in this modern era and because we have paid little attention to His recommendation we are floundering in a pool of filth.
Throughout the public life of our Lord the one constant is His plea that we "pray and do penance" in order to repair for the sins committed. Our Lord not only taught the apostles how to pray but He Himself was constantly praying to His Father.
As the Father loved His Only Begotten Son so He loves us in His Son. Our Lord makes us lovable to the Father through the gift of the Holy Ghost, Who is the love bond uniting the lessed Trinity. Yes, we are made lovable and we are responsible for our growth in love
throughout the days of our lives in the temporary test. How might we grow in His Love?
Through prayer we increase our love for God and our neighbor. Prayer is the most powerful act a human being can perform in this day and age. So let us consider how to pray most effectively.
First, our motive must be pure. We must seek to praise and glorify the God Who called us into being and sustains in everything we say, think or do. Priority number one is to recognize that we are His Creatures subject to His will. In His Will is our peace outside of His will is our demise. Create within your soul a place of prayer. St. Teresa used the image of a castle.
Other saints have begun their prayer by imaging the most beautiful place possible with the throne of God in the center, angels and saints in gold array surrounding the throne and all creation prostrate before God. It takes but a moment to place oneself in this presence but it is important to set the stage of the heart's uplifting.
Second, in your prayer use the words of God, the Scripture. Of course, the Rosary is the most solidly scriptural prayer and recommended by such wonderful saints as Louis de Montfort,
Pope St. Pius X, St. John Bosco, St. Therese of the Most Holy Face of Jesus and the list can go on and on. Devotion to our Blessed Mother and the prayer of the rosary go hand in hand to increase our union with God. The Father has so planned that the Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart should be so intimately united that no one can separate them.
Third, three virtues mark the truly prayerful person. The virtue of humility is the soil of true prayer. We must subordinate ourselves totally to the Lord Who has given us all that we are and can become. As St. John of the Cross tells us: " We are nothing, nothing, nothing."
Let it sink in and believe it. Of ourselves we can do nothing good, say nothing profound or think nothing worthwhile but for the grace of God. So let us take no credit in anything but our desire to love God. From humility we turn to the virtue of perseverance. Never give up and never think that you are not heard. God is outside of our time and a single moment is a thousand years for Him while a thousand years is like a single second. A good way to remember to persevere is the saying "pray until something happens" (PUSH). Finally, have trust that God knows better than you or I what is most useful for our salvation. Confidence in the providence of God is so important in our prayer life. Do not fret or fuss instead believe
that whatever is taking place is happening under the merciful guidance of God.
Prayer and Penance sum up our lives in the world and the more we can pray the happier we shall be. These two "P's" set us free from the concerns of this world and no matter what happens in the near future we will walk on the water with our souls fixed upon the Lord who calls us forward, "Come". If our hearts are prayerful and our actions penitential then we are living the Catholic life in the best way possible. Keep up the good work with courage and pray for me please. I will pray for each of you.
In the hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Fr. Richard Voigt