Prayer is essential. How many times have you heard that, but wondered just how essential is it really? Or, what’s in it for me to pray? How many times have you prayed and heard silence? How many times have you given up on prayer, because your prayers weren’t answered the way you wanted?
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we look to quotations from Saint John Damascene and Psalm 130:1 to define prayer:
Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God. But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or out of the depths of a humble and contrite heart? …Only when we humbly acknowledge that we do not know how to pray as we ought, are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer.1
Two stunning comments are made within this one quote:
- “Pray as we ought” – When we pray, we need to submit to the will of God, and not only pray for what we want. Yet many times we make requests of God based upon only what we want; based upon our own pride; and not necessarily what would be best for all concerned.
- “Receive freely the gift of prayer” – Prayer is a gift from God! It is His mechanism for communication in our relationship with Him. If we don’t persevere in prayer, then how can we maintain a relationship with God? Think on that for a minute.
God always hears our prayers, and will always give us what we need. In those dry times, when we feel abandoned, when we think that our prayers have not been heard, or worse, that they have been ignored, it is at these very times that we must persevere in prayer, trusting and knowing that God has gone ahead of us preparing the way to deliver us from our time of tribulation. Saint Paul reminds us to “pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God, for you in Christ Jesus” (Eph 5:20). We must thank Him for everything, through prayer, even for the suffering that is allowed so that we may grow stronger in faith.
How do we persevere through life, given all of the obstacles and uncertainties placed in our path? We’ll address the answer to that question in our next reflection on the virtue of perseverance. Don’t miss it!
1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd. Ed. paragraph 2559, Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997. Print.