The Power of Prayer

David Oatney New Evangelization, Prayer, Vatican II, Year of Faith

6a00d8341c3d8353ef00e550d7003c8833-640wiPope Francis has recently called on us to pray in a courageous fashion, not just to tell people we are praying for them or to say a quick prayer and be done with it. Courageous and strong prayer of faith is what we need. Indeed, St. Paul reminds us to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. The Holy Father held up Moses as one intercessory example, he tired himself out holding his hands high.

Often, people today complain that they have no time to pray. Despite advances in technology that would make our grandparents’ heads spin, much of which has been designed to try and make our lives easier, it seems that we have made our lives far more complicated and jammed them with things to do. This isn’t the fault of singular individuals, but of a society which so works people to death that we have come to feel that we do not have time for a real relationship with the very person who created us.

Prayer is the means that God has given us to draw closer to him, so much so that when the Eucharist is consecrated, which is the only means of physicalcontact that we have with Jesus Christ in this world, it cannot be done without a prayer, the epiclesis, whereby the celebrant of the Mass asks that the Holy Spirit  come upon the gifts of bread and wine that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ. The entire Mass is a prayer, the Church’s highest prayer. Without prayer, a person’s claim that they are truly a Christian rings very hollow indeed.

When we fail to pray-to communicate with God-we give place to the devil, because we cannot draw near to God unless we approach him, he doesn’t force us. The nearer we draw to God, the less likely we are to get ourselves into trouble with serious sin and the pain and guilt that it can bring to our lives and the lives of others. This isn’t to say that some of the most deeply prayerful people do not sin, but rather that prayer is not unlike armor protecting an ancient soldier from the worst battle injuries. Having one’s shield up by no means guaranteed that you would emerge from the battle unscathed, but you were far more likely to be less injured with your shield.

We have all felt the pain of what the clerical sex abuse scandal and similar public exposure of serious sin on the part of clergy and others has done to hurt the public witness of the Church not only in our own country, but in places around the world from Ireland to Australia. I cannot help but wonder (as a matter of personal reflection) if the root of these crimes against children and the dignity of the human person, as well as against the Body of Christ, is that some of the people who committed them got away from living a life of prayer.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the daily prayer of the Universal Church. Praying it is required of all clergy and religious, but all Catholics (and indeed all Christians) are strongly encouraged to pray it as well. By doing so, you can add your prayer intentions to the many millions of people around the world praying the Divine Office every day. Is 20 minutes or so in the Morning and Evening too much time for Jesus?

Don’t have time for that? How about the Angelus?

Let’s pray it together, shall we?

Traditionally, the Angelus (or the Regina Caeli during the Easter Season) is prayed at 6 AM, Noon, and 6 PM…but there is no rule that says you can only pray it at those times. Offer it up for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado. Pray for the victims of war. Pray in thanksgiving that God is bringing you through another day. This chanted version from the Daughters of Mary in Latin is absolutely beautiful, but you don’t need to pray it in Latin for Our Lord and Our Lady to appreciate it and for your intentions to be addressed.

If you have time for something more substantial, pray the Rosary, or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or if you prefer to immerse yourself in the Word of God in your prayer, try Lectio Divina.

We know that many of our Protestant brothers and sisters speak of having a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. Jesus certainly wants to have a personal relationship with us, but we can’t have that without prayer. It is rather difficult to have a personal relationship with someone you never talk to or interact with, and God and the Church have given us all kinds of tools to open those lines of communication to the Heavens.

Prayer works, and if you don’t think so, you should try it. I am firmly convinced that I am alive today because people have prayed for me. Most importantly, however, committing yourself to daily prayer is a ministry to the people you are praying for, and you will come to know Our Lord in a much deeper and more meaningful way…and you likely won’t go to Mass because you feel that you “have to,” you will be beating the doors down to get into God’s house and to the Holy Eucharist.

If you think no one is praying for you, I promise you that someone is. I pray for everyone who reads Life At 25.