"Lord, teach us to pray."(1) "We do not know how to pray as we ought."(2)
"Our Father, Who art in Heaven..."
What is prayer? "Prayer is the raising of ones mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God."(3) [It] is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.(4)
"To pray is to talk with God. But about what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know Him and to get to know yourself: to get acquainted."(5)
Think of the acronym "ACTS": Adoration, tell the Lord how much you love Him, honor Him, and worship Him, and give Him praise; Contrition, repent before the Lord laying all of your transgressions at His feet, asking for His Grace to change your heart and to turn away from sin; Thanksgiving, give thanks to the Lord, for all good things come from Him, and this is His will for you(6); and Supplication, pray for others, ask humbly of the Lord in earnest petition, for "humility is the foundation of prayer".(7)
And where does prayer come from? It is God who calls us continually to Himself. "For You have made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."(8) Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand times). According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain,(9) but "the fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful."(10)
"I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours."(11) Pray with confidence! "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."(12) Fulton Sheen once said, "Millions and millions of favors are hanging from heaven on silken cords, and prayer is the sword that cuts them."
But prayer is not just talking to God, it is also listening to Him. It is through prayer that we come to know God, come to recognize His voice, and come to hear Him. "The prayer of a Christian is never a monologue."(13) How did the prophets hear God, if they had not taken the time to get to know Him? Would Elijah have heard God when God spoke to him in a tiny whispering sound,(14) if he had not known first how to recognize Gods voice? HOW can we hear God in this noisy, clamorous, disorderly world we live in? If we TAKE THE TIME TO BE QUIET WITH GOD, then we will be able to "hear" Him! "Be still and know that I am God."(15)
We need to withdraw to our "inner rooms"(16) and spend time with Our Father, to know Him, to build a better relationship with Him, and to be strengthened by Him. "[Jesus] would withdraw to deserted places to pray(17) and He spent the night in prayer."(18) Jesus is the example we are to imitate. By listening to the Son, the master of prayer, we as children learn to pray to the Father.
Therefore, "pray always without becoming weary."(19) Prayer unites us with God and should be carried out in all of our activities, for we are to "pray at every opportunity in the Spirit,"(20) and "without ceasing."(21) It is a necessity for "without God we can do nothing. "(22) And it is vitally important that we SET TIME ASIDE DAILY to be in communication with God, and that we BE FAITHFUL TO IT. "If you abandon prayer you may at first live on spiritual reserves and, after that, by cheating."(23) If we neglect prayer, we neglect Christ and leave ourselves at the mercy of the enemy. And then where would be our strength? We would succumb to the temptations of life, and the difficulties and trials that pursue us.
"...and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Amen.
Sharon Furman, May 28, 1997
Lenten Reflection! "1997"
We have begun our Lenten journey! Lent is a time of the Spirit, a time when we pray for a true circumcision of the heart. It is a time when Jesus invites us to go to the desert with him to pray and to fast. Scripture says that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, and that it was the Spirit that led him into the desert. Therefore, we should not fear the desert, for it is the Spirit that leads us there. Lent is a time of the Spirit, both of our spirit and the Holy Spirit. It is a time when we ought not be surprised if we do not sense any spiritual consolation. It is precisely for this reason that Lent is a time of the Spirit: to be in the desert is to be dry; it is a time when the only thing which we must cling to is to God Himself. We are called to deny ourselves certain pleasures, food, drink, our very passions, etc. We may choose to rise earlier and to go down later. We do all these things precisely because Lent is a time of the Spirit. With God's grace we are able to die, more and more, to the desires of the flesh so that we may live a true life in the Spirit: a Life in the Spirit which is a result of a true interior circumcision of the heart. But we must not fear the desert, for it is the Spirit that leads us there, and it is the Spirit whom we cling to. Jesus, lead us to the desert with you that we may come to know you and love you more intimately. Holy Spirit, live in us!
May you all have a blessed and holy Lent. Be assured of my prayers.
Sincerely in the Heart of the Immaculata,
Mike Najim (1997) now Fr. Mike Najim