One of my theology professors at Franciscan University of Steubenville once told our class, ďIf you want to lose your faith, just stop praying, and breathe.Ē His statement initially seemed rather odd, since I assumed that falling away from God would take a bit more effort than simply not spending time with Him in prayer. It turns out what he said can almost serve as a one-line summary of the Christian faith. In reality, prayer is the sine qua non of our relationship with the Lord, the essential element without which we would, indeed, soon fail to even think of Him, let alone love Him.
Understanding prayer strictly in that way, however, results in an incomplete appreciation of its power and importance. If we pray merely to avoid losing our faith in God, thatís a sort of white knuckle approach to seeking salvation, a kind of insurance policy by which we hope to make it to heaven by tossing up an occasional prayer. But God wants prayer to be so much more than that for each of us. Prayer is the means by which we build our relationship of love with the Holy Trinity, how we share everything with God, and receive all that He has for us.
Itís often said that prayer is a two-way conversation. Yet, one of the most common mistakes we makeóand Iíve been as guilty as anyoneóis forgetting to give God His time to speak. Thatís understandable, since we canít see Him and, barring a special grace from on high, we canít audibly hear His voice. But thereís so much He wants to say to us. And he longs to have us place our prayers before Him and answer them in a way thatís in our best interests and according to His perfect timing.
A book of this nature is a wonderful testimony to the efficacy of prayer, an inspiring collection of personal accounts of how God has not only heard peopleís prayers, but answered them in an amazing variety of ways. Reading such stories can only help us develop a greater trust in God and an eagerness to approach Him with our own heartfelt intentions and petitions.
Being frail human beings wounded by our own sins and the sins of others, there can be any number of obstacles in the way of our entering into a fruitful life of prayer. Perhaps you feel that God couldnít possibly answer your prayers. Or maybe you donít think you should bother Him with your petitions. You might even have an unhealthy fear of God because of some hurt you suffered earlier in your life. Each of us likely has something standing in the way of our prayer life reaching its full potential.
If you sense any fear, hesitancy, or other impediment to praying, then the place to start is to ask the Lord to remove such barriers and grant you the freedom to become the trusting child He has created you to be. Thereís nothing God wants more than to communicate closely with you, for you to share every single aspect of your life with Him, and to bestow upon you ďevery spiritual blessing in the heavens,Ē as Ephesians chapter 1 says.
For most of us, finding the time to pray well can be a challenge in todayís world. But that just gives us more opportunities to be creative and, if necessary, to make the appropriate changes in our lives that will afford us adequate time to spend in the Lordís presence. Nothing could be more necessary. Nothing could be more rewarding.
As your heart is moved by the stories of the power of prayer compiled in this book by Sr. Patricia, make a new resolution today that you are going to make your whole life a prayer, and that you will devote at least a small amount of time each day to conversing with God. Heís waiting to hear from you. And heís waiting to pour out His blessings in return.