Reviving a Life of Prayer

July 24, 2016

I have decided to bring this blog back from the dead after almost a three-year hiatus. I was thinking last night, chatting with my wife (I have a wife now!), that one of the things that I do is I tend to talk myself out of things like this. I think in these descending spirals leading to the conclusion that such an endeavor is not worth the effort. Such thoughts include, “No real fruit seems to come of it; what is the point?” Or, “If I’m going to put effort into something I want to see these  particular results and…”–on goes the record player. These conclusions are not of the God who initiates my urge to write. Sometimes it is the simple realization that if God has placed a desire that I share something which I do not necessarily want to share, I have to wonder where the contrary sentiment comes from. Woe to me if I am the source of my own discouragement against the true God’s promptings. Further woes still if I heed another voice who, again, is speaking against God’s voice.

There are certain projects or productive endeavors that we know would be good for us and yet we talk ourselves out of even trying. Who does not say, “I should read more,” “I should write more,” or “I need to exercise more”? Analogously, prayer is one such thing that anyone who is the least bit honest with themselves will always say, “I need to pray more” and rightly so. While reading and exercising are important on mental and physical levels respectively, prayer is absolutely essential on a  spiritual level. Prayer, as Dom Chautard writes, puts us into contact, not only with our own cause but also the First cause (page 21 of The Soul of the Apostolate, PDF version). Prayer, then, is the key to understanding our mission, purpose and sanctity. If prayer is so essential and crucial to our lives as human beings why does it seem to be most easily brushed aside like a hobby we simply don’t have time for anymore?

For human beings, life is layered. There is the physical life which humanity shares with all living things, there is social/intellectual life that even certain animals may participate in, and then there’s the spiritual life which is unique to human beings among earthly creatures. For a true and full life, all three layers of the human being need to be nourished. For bodily life, we eat food, drink water, breathe and exercise to maintain our body. To go without one of these, depending on how immediately crucial it is to our body, we will see negative effects that, if persistent, will lead to death.

To go without breathing will not instantly end life but for a long enough time it will. We can witness a similar pattern when it comes to social and intellectual living. A dog, by nature, is social. A neglected dog can become bored, depressed and can even become socially impaired such that it can no longer relate to other dogs. The same is true of human beings. Unfortunate case studies of neglected children reveal developmental delays and mental immaturity. Further, there is a link between continual learning and mental activity with the staving off of mental diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Using our minds continually makes it stronger. Sound familiar? Living out the capacities of these two layers of life leads to richer human living. The analogy of the first two layers is the way God teaches us about the third layer which is the spiritual life.

Jesus Christ is the life of our soul. Prayer, the sacraments, and penances are what brings that life into our souls and keeps it there. To go without it leads to a spiritual death which is most dangerous in a world that is increasingly materialist. Materialism is an ideology believing that there is nothing beyond matter. All that there is is all that can be seen. This ideology is incommensurable to the Christian Faith which professes belief in God, “Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.”A materialist dismisses prayer as something essential for human being since the invisible spiritual soul does not exist for the materialist. But such is the nature of things that are bad for us. Vices begin a cycle that left untreated becomes progressively worse until it kills us. A starving man eventually becomes so weak they do not have the strength to acquire the food he desperately needs. Likewise, one who does not pray will have a difficult time mustering the faith and strength needed to do so. This is how materialist and other atheist ideologies are born which lead to a spiritual death.

Man is an intensely religious being. Every major culture in history had some form of religion in which they offer tribute to something beyond the visible. Religiosity is written into our being in such a way that human beings have the capacity at all to call themselves atheist. I imagine dolphins, as intelligent as they might be, do not debate the question of God. Only human beings are capable of it. That capacity itself points to this third layer which can only be sustained by God through prayer.

For those who have trouble praying, persevere. For those who do not pray, the simple way to revival is itself a humble and faithful act of prayer. Jesus’ own disciples came to him and requested, “Lord, teach us to pray.” To which he gives us the well known, and perfect prayer. That’s all it takes. “Lord, teach me to pray.” “Lord, come and get me.” Or simply saying over and over, the name, “Jesus.” That is all it takes. From there you will be called to grow but, one step at a time and it will take time.

In time those who persevere will perfectly pray as Jesus taught us:

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

It has been a long absence on my part but I am back for as long as God wills, or as my resolve holds. I appreciate any feedback, comments, questions or even rebuttals but please keep civil. Thanks for reading!

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