Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blog # 39 PRAY

Blog # 39 PRAY (Lk 11: 1). His disciples asked Jesus : "Lord, teach us to pray". (Mat 26: 36). " Stay here while I go over there and pray". (Acts 10: 9). " Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray". To pray. What does this mean? We could look in a dictionary and discover the few words that officially define for us the experience of prayer, but the question what does it mean to pray can be asked on a different level than a mere definition in words. What does it mean , personally, to pray? Is there some way I can remind myself to pray when I tend to forget? How often can or should I pray? If we look to the Bible for references to prayer we find many. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments many explicit references are made to prayer. Kings judges patriarchs and common people are all given to prayer. Paul certainly was a man of prayer. Jesus invited His disciples to come away from their ordinary work routine to spend time in prayer. The Gospels tell us Jesus frequently prayed, especially when making important decisions such as calling the Apostles or when He needed special strength as on the night before He died when He knelt in the garden to prepare Himself to suffer. We are told Jesus spent whole nights in prayer. Holy men and women throughout the history of the Church have always been outstanding models for those who wish to pray. There is frequently a common pattern. Those who have accomplished most in the world for God and for people seem to be those who were most interested in and devoted to prayer. Through their prayers they were joined to Heaven but also accomplished great things for people on earth. Mother Terese of Calcutta is a prime example of such holy people. What would you say right now if someone were to ask you what does it mean to pray? What image, what words would come to your mind if someone asked you what it means to pray? For some people it would seem the experience of prayer is predominantly the experience of asking God for something. For others it is more. A definition of prayer we learned as children went like this: To pray is to raise our minds and hearts to God, to adore Him, to thank Him, to express our sorrow for our sins, and to ask Him for what we need and His blessing upon our lives. That makes a good prayer. Then years ago I asked an old priest how he would define prayer. He said prayer is a personal willful response to the presence of God Who is love. Since God is love, and God is always and everywhere present, that definition is open to receive within itself actions as well as thoughts and words. As we can express our response to a friend's birthday with a cake, a hug, a poem or a song, a written note or in spoken words, so we can express our response to God present to us in more than one way. And since God is present always and everywhere there is no time or place where prayer in one form or another cannot be ours. Thoughts such as these throw light on the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5: 17, 18: ...never cease praying,...such is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. The classic prayer referred to as "The Morning Offering" says it this way: O Jesus through the immaculate heart of the Virgin Mary, I offer thee my prayers works joys and sufferings of this day, for all the intentions of Thy sacred heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins and for the geneal intentions of the Holy Father. Amen! Yes, Lord, always and everywhere, Thy will be done!

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