The Gift of Prayer

 

Do you pray? Often or just occasionally? Is prayer important to you?

These are essential questions for our life of faith. Like breath in the human body, prayer makes our spirits live. Without it, they die. Prayer helps us live and grow spiritually.

Why pray?

     Prayer is God’s Gift

Prayer is a gift of God. “Gift” is a good word to describe prayer, because praying is not something we can do ourselves. ” We do not know how to pray as we ought,” scripture says. (Romans 8,26) God gives this gift to us.

Why? Because God loves us and wants to draw near to us as a friend. How strange that sounds! God all-sufficient, all-powerful, all-knowing, wants to draw close to be our friend. God calls us his friends and looks for our company and hears our prayer. What seems unbelievable is true.

At the same time, prayer fulfills a desire we have as human beings to know God. We’re made in God’s image, and something in our being thirsts for the One who made us. It’s a thirst described in the psalms:

“O God, you are my God, for you I long. For you my soul is thirsting. Like a dry weary land without water… so my soul longs for you, my God.”

We can’t be satisfied unless we are draw near to God. “Our hearts are restless,” St. Augustine says, “until they rest in you.” When we pray, we rest in God.

God gives that gift generously, without considering our worthiness or unworthiness. Sinners as well as saints can pray. People of every religious tradition, or no religious tradition at all, receive the gift. It’s given to every human being. We’re all called to pray.

(cf. The Catholic Catechism: The Universal Call to Prayer. 2566-2567)

All are called to pray

“All” are called to pray. Surprisingly, some who think they are unworthy or ungifted may pray best and be graciously heard. That’s what Jesus taught in his parable about the Pharisee and the Publican who together went up to the temple to pray. The Publican, an outsider who thought himself unworthy of approaching God in prayer, was found more pleasing by God than the Pharisee, a professionally religious person, who seemed to pray so effortlessly. (Luke 18,9-14)

Prayer is God’s gift to the strong and the weak, to the smallest child and frailest of the old. It’s given to those who say, ” I’m not really religious; prayer is beyond me.” It’s given to you, no matter who you are.

That’s not to say we can’t refuse to pray or neglect it. Like any gift, prayer has to be received and, as we know, we can throw gifts away. “If you knew the gift of God,” Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well. A Gift was there before her eyes. At first she was blind to it, then she enthusiastically received it.

Don’t go through life leaving the gift of prayer unused. Thankfully, it’s always there to be taken up!

In the prayers of the church, you often find an acknowledgment that prayer is God’s gift and a request that God give and strengthen that gift in us. At the beginning of her daily prayers, the liturgy of the hours, the church prays two verses of the psalms.

O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

O God, come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.

Simple, truthful words. I cannot open my lips in prayer unless God give me the gift. O God, come and assist me; help me approach you.

God graciously gives us this beautiful gift, hastening to help us open our lips and our hearts. Delighting to give us the gift of prayer, God welcomes us into his presence to share his life with ours, his love with our love.

Prayer’s God’s precious gift; cherish it always.

 

7 Comments

Filed under Religion

7 responses to “The Gift of Prayer

  1. H of U.C.

    Thank you. This post entered my mailbox right at the right moment: 1:43am

    “It is right and just.”

  2. annettewp

    Oh Father Victor – what a beautiful post. I speak more to God than to any one person and I wonder sometimes if I am taking up too much of God’s grace so your reference “Because God loves us and wants to draw near to us as a friend” brings me great joy. God is my closest and dearest friend.

  3. vhoagland

    God is our friend. Too bad so many don’t see that. FV

  4. Gloria

    I pray this prayer every day:

    Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
    Unuttered or expressed,
    The motion of a hidden fire
    That trembles in the breast.
    Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
    The falling of a tear,
    The upward glancing of an eye
    When none but God is near.

    -James Montgomery (1771-1854)

  5. ANNA E SWEANY

    I talk to jesus during the day .need him and thank him for all his help.pray for peace.but I am not so sure is that is prayer…except for THE PATER NOSTER’ BUT YOU PRAY BEAUTIFULLY THROUGH YOUR HOMILIES ..ANNA

  6. vhoagland

    Anna, I’m sure it is prayer. I have a comment on the Pater Noster tomorrow on this blog and at the end I say we have our own voices in prayer. But the Pater Noster is like a common language that gives every prayer a voice. Hope you’re well. FV

  7. vhoagland

    Never saw that before. I like that line “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire…” The psalms say that too.
    FV

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s