Skip to comments.Pray Always
Posted on 10/20/2007 9:26:26 PM PDT by Salvation
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Jesus exhorts His disciples to pray always without becoming weary. In order to avoid the weariness that often accompanies the experience of praying always, we do well to consider several dispositions that can assist us in our resolve to follow the Lord's exhortation.
First, we must realize what prayer is. The saints can assist us in forming a reliable definition. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta used to say that prayer is to the soul what air is to the body. If we take away prayer, the soul suffocates, just as a body deprived of air perishes. St. Teresa of Avila once remarked that prayer is turning to the One who looks upon us with love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes prayer as "the raising of one's mind and heart to God, or the petition of good things from him in accord with his will. It is always the gift of God who comes to encounter man." In effect, prayer is the personal and living encounter with God. It is a gift from God rooted in love. When we truly love another person, it is difficult to grow weary of him. In fact, we always look forward to our next encounter with him and when we are with him, we do not want to be apart from him because we desire to love and to be loved. Hence, prayer is relational.
Second, we must avoid reducing prayer to mere supplication. Among the general categories of prayer, supplication is the last of the four types of prayer. Adoration, contrition and thanksgiving are the first three forms. Even when we make our petitions, the Catechism's definition clarifies how this ought to be done. We are to ask good things from God if they be in accord with His will. Many people become discouraged in prayer when they are led to believe that their prayers are not answered. They believe that God does not listen to them because He does not give them what they ask. The reality may be that God does listen to our prayers it is the answer that we may not like. We can transform the third petition in the Our Father to, "Thy will be done, my way, on earth as it is in heaven." Thus, petitioning God, we ought to pray for the grace to cooperate with whatever He wants to bestow upon us, regardless of our preferences.
Third, we must learn to pray in faith. With great concern, Jesus asks that when He returns in glory, "Will he find faith on earth?" Faith is not a feeling. Rather, it is an act of the intellect, moved by the will in charity to an objective reality (God) beyond ourselves. The Catechism explains that faith is the first of the three theological virtues, which resides in the intellect, by which we "believe in God and all that he has revealed to us and that the Church proposes for our belief because God is Truth itself. By faith, the human person freely commits himself to God." Our faith in God must be more than a mere intellectual grasp of doctrine. Rather, it must be a living and personal encounter with the Lord whereby we freely submit our intellect and our will to the One who gazes upon us with love and invites to respond to Him in the same way. Jesus is not seeking persons who can simply make sense of the doctrines of the Church. Instead, He seeks true believers because believers are lovers of God.
With the aforementioned dispositions, we may be able to persevere in prayer, realizing that authentic prayer implies an authentic relationship with the One who loves us more than we love ourselves and who gently moves us to a more frequent and perfect raising of our minds and hearts to Him, Who is love.
All are invited to this reflection on Sunday's Readings.
**Among the general categories of prayer, supplication is the last of the four types of prayer. Adoration, contrition and thanksgiving are the first three forms.**
Adoration — praise
Contrition — sorrow
Thanksgiving — always give thanks first
Supplication — petition for oneself or for others
**But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” **
Will Christ find people praying?
I did not know about those four types of prayer and it is such a fundamental thing. Thanks for pointing them out.
Very nice photos, thanks and BTTT. Took my wife’s granddaughters to the Latin Mass today — unfortunately, they were the only younger kids there but it’s a start. The Altar Boy, a little older of course, was very, very reverent and correct.
You’re welcome. It does make sense. Give thanks first. Ask your supplications/petitions last.
“If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins ‘you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.’ Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practise black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if— and mark well what I say— if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.” —St. Louis De Montfort
Keep a constant vigilance of prayer.
Other Articles by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
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|Even Bite-sized Prayer is Powerful|
I've often heard people say that they don't want to trouble God with their petty needs and concerns. After all, He has more important things to attend to, like running the universe.
Yet, the New Testament makes God out to be a glutton for punishment. Not only does Jesus often urge us to ask for what we need ("Ask and you shall receive" Luke 9:11), but He praises the people, like Bartimaeus, who ask in the loudest, most obnoxious of ways (Mark 10:46-52). And to top it off, He tells stories in which He showcases rude, relentless people who wake up their neighbors in the middle of the night (Luke 11:5-8). My all-time favorite is the story in this Sunday's gospel of the nagging widow who won't give the judge a moment's rest till she gets what she wants (Luke 18:1-8).
The unjust judge simply wanted to get the lady off his back. He wanted the widow to stop bugging him. But God appears to want us to bug Him. And keep bugging Him. Why? Maybe because He'd rather us look to Him for assistance than to the idols of this age. Perhaps because He knows that asking Him for help strengthens the virtue of humility in us since it is an admission that we are not in total control of the universe and just might need His help. Perhaps because He is a loving Father and likes being with us, even when we come just to ask Him to open His wallet.
When I was a teen, I thought that prayer was about nothing but asking for things. I prayed that God would keep my parents from finding out about certain things I'd done. I prayed that the best-looking girl in the class would like me. After all, Scripture says to ask.
But Scripture also tells us what to ask for. And there is the rub. We are often wrong about what to ask for, because we misidentify what will really make us happy. God knows us better than we know ourselves, since He created us. And He loves us more than we love ourselves, because He is our Father.
So before talking to Him, which is certainly a dimension of prayer, we need to listen to Him, which is an even more important dimension of prayer. We were given two ears and only one mouth for a reason.
But how do we listen to Him? One privileged way is through Scripture. These words are guaranteed to be His, for they are inspired, breathed by the Holy Spirit, divine words in human words (2 Tim 3:16). This does not just mean that the Holy Spirit moved once, guiding the authors when they wrote the words down thousands of years ago. It means that the Holy Spirit dwells in these words as in a Temple and beckons us to enter to meet Him regularly, for a life-changing rendezvous. These words are not simply a wearying catalogue of ideas we need to buy into, facts we need to believe, or rules we need to observe. Instead, they are meant to be a fresh, personal, energizing communication from God each time we hear or read them. They are food for our souls.
Most of us don't eat once a week. We eat daily. Several times a day in fact. So we should gather up the manna of God's word at least daily, maybe even several times a day.
So you don't have much time for quiet prayer and extensive Bible reading? Join the club. You may not have time for a daily Thanksgiving feast, but I bet you snack a few times a day. There are scriptural, bite-sized snacks called the Psalms that have been the backbone of prayer for God's people for nearly 3,000 years. The Psalms are God's inspired word through which He speaks to us, but they happen to be cast as prayers that we can use to speak with Him. That kills two birds with one stone. And they cover everything that we could possible want to say to God. "Thank You," "praise You," "why are You doing this to me?," "please help me!," etc. There are even a few asking God to smash our enemies. These would have been perfect for Moses to have used while praying during the battle with Amalek, except they hadn't been written yet.
If you have time for three meals or snacks a day, you have time for at least three Psalms a day.
This is a good article. We can’t equate human reason to Divine Love. For those made in His image, nothing is petty. Even if the answer is a “no”, God still wants us to pray for His answer. His giving us a “no” is a Divine “yes” for what He wills that makes us happiest.
For example, “No, I won’t let you win the lottery because that will worsen the condition of your financial and materialistic misery. Discover my happiness for you elsewhere, and please keep praying for the Guidance, Life, and Love I want to give you.”
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