We are sorely neglectful – even scoffing – of prayer.
Christians put it to the side in a place of “last resort”.
The world merely laughs claiming the ineffectiveness of prayer, believing reliance on self is all that is necessary.
Yet, when hardships, the prospect of death, evils, or fears beyond our strength are encountered, man instinctively turns outside himself to something beyond.
“There are no atheists in foxholes” was the saying of soldiers on the frontlines.
I wonder just how true that is when life takes a turn for something unexpected.
Saint Paul spoke of the effects of prayer when he wrote to the Corinthians. He asked them to pray for himself and his missionary partners. Knowing that his death was near at hand by his enemy, he said,
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction[b] we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. 9 Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead; 10 he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers.”(2 Corinthians 1:8-11, RSVCE)
He does not pray for worldly success in this life, nor release from his imprisonment and torments. His prayers are requested that he will reach his ultimate goal. His ultimate goal is Heaven. It was this deliverance for which he prayed,
19 Yes, and I shall rejoice. For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body,[a] whether by life or by death.”(Philippians 1:19-20, RSVCE)
He asked continuously and throughout his writings for prayers that he would succeed in his ministry.
30 I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.”(Romans 15:30-32, RSVCE)
How do we pray?
But as Christians, we gloss over our prayers as if we are on autopilot.We unthinkingly say our meal prayers, or attend Sunday Mass or services without paying much attention to them.
Prayer has no longer held as an important aspect of our lives.
We say, “I’ll pray for you” to someone and then never give the person another thought.
How should we pray?
As a Christian, we need to remember to live our lives in the presence of God. Not just once in a while, but every day, at every moment. Everything we do should be for love of Him Who gave us life and an opportunity to serve Him. Even picking up a piece of lint from the floor, or doing mundane, repetitive tasks should be done for love of Him.
It is all He asks. That we remember Him. That we love him. And that we strive to constantly remind ourselves of His presence.
That is what prayer is all about. It is the secret behind the words of the Benedictine Order,
“Ora et Labora” – Pray and Work.
It is the way to living fully in the Divine Presence.
In doing so, we no longer neglect our prayer. For everything we do becomes prayer. And it becomes prayer not just for ourselves, but for everything and everyone He loves.
Pray. Pray often. No longer neglect prayer.
It is essential for rising out of the darkness of this life and reaching beyond into the life of Divine Light.