If you don’t pray, you’ll fail. It’s a fact. Centuries of experience have proved it, and all the saints know it. And the devil knows it too. In a Wednesday Audience, Pope Francis gave quite a few pieces of advice about prayer, which I’d like to share with you.
He says, “the Church is a great school of prayer.” Many of us have grown up learning to pray from our parents or grandparents and have witnessed other people praying.
“The life of a parish and of every Christian community is marked by liturgical moments and moments of community prayer.” We need this prayer, and we need to nourish the simple prayer life we learned as children. It’s in moments of crisis that help strengthen our prayer and our faith. “And the breath of faith is prayer: we grow in faith inasmuch as we learn to pray. After certain passages in life, we become aware that without faith we could not have made it and that our strength was prayer—not only personal prayer, but also that of our brothers and sisters, and of the community that accompanied and supported us, of the people who know us, of the people we ask to pray for us.”
Pope Francis speaks about how there are people who dedicate their life to prayer, and how monasteries have been, and continue to be “centers of spiritual light.” He calls them “small oases,” necessary, not only for the Church, but for society itself. “Praying and working in community keeps the world going. It is a driving force!”
Now this part gets good:
“Everything in the Church originates in prayer and everything grows thanks to prayer. When the Enemy, the Evil One, wants to fight the Church, he does so first by trying to drain her fonts, preventing them from praying. For example, we see this in certain groups who agree on moving ecclesial reforms forward, changes in the life of the Church... There are organizations, there is the media that informs everyone... But prayer is not evident, there is no prayer. “We need to change this. We need to make this decision that is a bit tough.” The proposal is interesting: only with discussion, only through the media. But where is prayer?”
What is true for the Church is true for individuals as well, and applies to every aspect of life. There can be some really great ideas out there for evangelization, but if they aren’t rooted in prayer, they won’t go anywhere. Prayer is essential. He goes on to say:
“Prayer is what opens the door to the Holy Spirit, who inspires progress. Changes in the Church without prayer are not changes made by the Church. They are changes made by groups. And when the Enemy, as I said, wants to fight the Church, he does it first of all by trying to drain her fonts, preventing prayer and [encouraging] these other proposals to be made. If prayer ceases, for a little while it seems that everything can go ahead like always, out of inertia, but after a short time, the Church becomes aware that she has become like an empty shell, that she has lost her bearings, that she no longer possesses her source of warmth and love.”
Things might appear to go on normally, but if you stop praying, after maybe a week or so you’ll start to notice that you lose your temper easier, you’re in a bad mood more often, and acts of virtue that were easy for you before now become a heroic effort.
Even holy people go through hard times, and they are strengthened by prayer. “The saints, who often count for little in the eyes of the world, are in reality the ones who sustain it, not with the weapons of money and power, of the communications media, and so forth, but with the weapon of prayer.”
The Holy Father asks the same daunting question that Jesus poses, “‘When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?’ (Lk 18:8), or will he find only organizations, like groups of ‘entrepreneurs of faith’, everyone well organized, doing charitable works, many things… or will he find faith?”
If we don’t have the lamp of faith lit with the oil of prayer, the Lord will not find this faith.
“The question that we Christians need to ask ourselves is: Do I pray? Do we pray? How do I pray? Like a parrot or do I pray with my heart? How do I pray? Do I pray, certain that I am in the Church and that I pray with the Church? Or do I pray somewhat according to my ideas and make my ideas become prayer? This is pagan prayer, not Christian. I repeat: We can conclude that the lamp of faith will always be lit on earth as long as there is the oil of prayer.”
We must go to the Church to learn how to pray, to keep the lamp of faith burning bright.
“Without faith everything collapses. Without prayer faith is extinguished. Faith and prayer go together. There is no other way. For this reason the Church, which is the house and school of communion, is the house and school of faith and prayer.”
Don’t give up on your prayer!
-Sr. Michelle Klobe, SHM