New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why and how to pray - BL. Pope John Paul II

First of all, we should pray because we are believers. For prayer is the recognition of our limitations and of our dependence; from God we come, to God we belong, to God we shall return! Hence the least we can do is surrender ourselves to him, our Creator and Lord, in full and total trust. Some people assert and do their best to prove that the universe is eternal and that all the order we observe in the universe - human beings with their brain-power and freedom included - has only come about by chance. Scientific studies and the experience of many honest people, however, say that these ideas, despite being asserted and even taught, have not been proved and invariably leave those who hold them anxious and confused, since they are very well aware that any object in motion must have had a push from outside! They are very well aware that chance cannot produce the perfect order existing in the universe and in the human entity! Everything is marvelously ordered, from the infinitesimal particles making up the atom, to the galaxies that wheel around in space! Everything, points to a plan comprehending every manifestation of nature, from inert matter to human thought. Where there is order, there is supreme Intelligence whom we call 'God' and whom Jesus has revealed to us as Love and taught us to call 'Father'.
So, by reflecting on the nature of the universe and on our own lives, we understand and acknowledge that we are creatures, limited yet sublime, who owe our nature to the Infinite Majesty of the Creator! this being so, prayer is, before all else, an act of intelligence, a feeling of humility and thankfulness, an attitude of trust and surrender to him who has lovingly given us life. Prayer is a mysterious but nonetheless real dialogue with God, a dialogue of confidence and love.
However, we are Christians and so we ought to pray like Christians. Now, for the Christian, prayer takes on a particular character which totally changes its innermost nature and innermost value. Christians are disciples of Jesus; we truly believe Jesus to be the Incarnate Word, the Son of God, come to dwell among us on earth.
When Jesus was on earth, his life was one of ceaseless prayer, a continuous act of adoration and love addressed to the Father; and since the highest form of prayer is sacrifice, the climax of our Lord's prayer life was the sacrifice of the cross, anticipated in the Eucharist at the Last Supper and handed down in the Holy mass for all ages to come.
So Christians know that their prayer life is Jesus; all our prayer live start from Jesus; it is he who prays within us, with us, for us. All who believe in God pray; but Christians pray in Jesus Christ. Christ is our prayer!
The highest form of prayer is the Holy Mass because, in Holy Mass, Jesus himself is really present, renewing the sacrifice of the Cross. But every prayer is valuable, especially the 'Our Father', which Christ himself was pleased to teach the Apostles and everybody on earth.

In uttering the words of the 'Our Father', Jesus created a practical model and universal synthesis. For everything one can and should say to the Father is contained in those seven petitions which we all know by heart. In them is such simplicity that even a child can learn them; but at the same time there is such depth that one might spend a lifetime reflecting on their meaning.
A further reason why we should pray is that we are frail and guilty. Humbly and realistically we need to admit that we are poor creatures, confused in our ideas, tempted to wrong -doing, frail and weak, constantly in need of inner strengthening and consolation. Prayer gives us strength for high ideals, for keeping the Faith, for charity, purity and generosity. Prayer gives us the courage to rise above indifference, or above guilt, if we have been unlucky enough to yield to temptation and weakness. Prayer gives us the light to see and consider events in our personal lives and in history itself in the salvific perspective of God and eternity.
So you must not stop praying! Let no day go by without praying a little! Prayer is a duty; it is also a great joy, since it is a dialogue with God through`Jesus Christ. Every Sunday, Holy Mass and, if you possibly can, sometimes on a weekday as well; everyday, prayers in the morning and at night, and when ever else you can find a moment!
St. Paul wrote to early Christians as follows: 'Be persevering in your prayers' (Collossians 4:2); 'With every sort of prayer and entreaty, keep praying on every possible occasion' (Ephesians 6:18).

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