The inescapable theme of this weekend’s Liturgy of the Word is prayer and the need for persistence in prayer. The question I want to deal with here is how powerful is prayer and how we can enjoy prayer without being burdened and/or bored.
Is prayer powerful enough to change God’s mind? Can we change God’s mind at all? Metaphysically, can God be changed? These are the questions being asked in philosophical circles. No satisfactory answer has come to light. Let me tell you what I know. Prayer changes things. It does make a difference in what and how God my personal experience. This is what I have seen, experienced, seen happen in the Holy Scriptures and other people’s lives.
That being said, we pray not because prayer is powerful but because God is powerful. To avoid being burdened by prayer and the very thought of it and to enjoy praying we must have the ability to be lost in and carried away by the ‘awesomeness’ of God. We see Psalmist do it over and over and over again. To mention but two: “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which you have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count” (Ps. 40:5). And, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” (Ps. 139:1-4). Like the disciples we should be wonderstruck: “Who then is this, who commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25).
Our ability to enjoy prayer will also depend on our faith, hope, and charity. The degree of our faith is the degree of our prayer. The strength of our hope is the strength of our prayer. And the warmth of our charity is the warmth of our prayer. Ultimately, prayer is like love. Words pour out in silence or from silence. In difficulties, a gesture is enough, a word, or nothing at all – love is enough.
“The spiritual person comes to God as an intimate friend, heart to heart and therefore keeps her soul vigilant and happy” (St. Clement of Alexandria)
– Fr. Abe