A lifelong training in prayer

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - June 24, 2021 - 12:00am

We have to realize more deeply that it is a basic need of ours to pray. If we understand our life to be a life always with God, as our Christian faith tells us, then we need to pray always, because prayer is like the very breathing of our life with God. We actually cannot afford to skip it even for a few seconds. Skipping it would easily compromise the life we are supposed to have with God.

Prayer is actually more important and necessary than the air we breathe, the food we eat or the water we drink. We should do everything to learn to pray always. On this, St. Paul clearly said, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5,17)

In fact, in that Pauline passage, what went before and after it are very interesting. St. Paul says that we have to rejoice always and be thankful in all circumstances because that is the will of God for us. (cfr 1 Thes 5,16.18)

We have to find ways of how to conform ourselves to this clear indication of St. Paul. We have to learn how to pray always, converting everything in our life, including those that we consider as negative or bad elements, into an occasion, a means, a reason for praying.

We need to go beyond that common understanding of prayer that pegs it only to the recitation of some vocal prayers or to spending time in some special places to do meditation or contemplation. While these forms of prayer are important and, in fact, are indispensable, they do not have the exclusive ownership, so to speak, of the ways of praying.

Prayer can lend itself to all kinds of forms. It can and should be done while we are working or playing or resting. It can be done not only in our good times but also, and especially so, in our bad times.

The essential thing in prayer is to relate ourselves in mind and heart to God. It may not be expressed in words. But at least in our thoughts and intentions, in our consciousness, we know that we are with God whatever the situation may be.

We have to train ourselves in this area. It’s actually easy to do because being a spiritual operation, prayer can always transcend whatever limitation we can have in time and space. It can even transcend whatever conditions we are subject to—physical, emotional, psychological, temperamental as well as social, political, economic, etc. It can be done anytime, anywhere. If we would just have the mind to do it, it can be done always.

This training in prayer should be started as early as possible, right at the toddler stage. Obviously, things have to be explained little by little until the fellow can arrive at that level that he can more or less motivate his own self to go on praying, whatever the circumstances and situations of his life.

This is a very important goal to attain for everyone. Especially these days when with so many engaging developments around, people tend to forget or take God for granted, this concern about training ourselves in prayer for life is urgent.

If we don’t want to get lost in our way in this world, we really need to know how to convert everything into prayer, into an intimate relation with our Father God.

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