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Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Truths About Prayer

THE FIRST TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER: 
Prayer is inconceivably powerful!   
Prayer is the most powerful form of energy a person can generate.  
Prayer exerts a force on reality: a force as real as the force of gravity.   
Prayer DOES influence the outcome of events.  
Prayer CAN change the lives of people. 
  
For example: The deconstruction of Soviet Communism in Russia, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, were not achieved by the leaders, nor by diplomats, nor by the military. The wall, and Soviet Communism, came down because of the Rosary.  Our Blessed Mother asked us to pray for the conversion of Russia. It took 28 years of praying. And the wall came down.

Prayer positively affects our bodies and minds.
The influence of prayer on the human mind and body is just like the influence that the hundreds of glands inside our bodies have on us.  Those glands work without us being aware of them -- and so does prayer. 




THE SECOND TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER: 
We must persevere at praying. 
To experience the power of prayer, to exert prayer’s  force upon reality, we must do what Moses did in Exodus 17:8-13.  The Amalekites came and waged war against Israel. As long as Moses kept his hands raised up in prayer to GOD, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. When Moses got tired after hours and hours of praying, in order to continue praying, Moses asked for support from his companions, Aaron and Hur, who held up his arms so he could continue praying. They also joined Moses in praying.

You and your spouse or family members or friends can agree to pray every morning or evening at the same time, whether together or privately, even “long-distance.” 
It helps to know that while you are praying in your room, your spouse or child or parent or friend is praying simultaneously but in another room, or even another city.
But, persevering in a daily period of prayer still is not enough!  
We must also persevere from day-to-day and from week-to-week.  
We must become persistent in praying.  
Just as persistent as the Widow was in seeking a just decision from the corrupt Judge, in Saint Luke’s Gospel -- Luke 18:1-8 --
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared GOD nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'  For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear GOD nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"
The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.  Will not GOD then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.  But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
We must have a regular time for praying, every day! 
These days, everyday life places huge demands on our time.  
Everyone is in a hurry, with too much to do.  
So, unless we schedule a regular time to pray every day, we probably won't pray at all! 
When something becomes important to us, we schedule it right into our daily life. We don’t leave it to chance. 
We usually won't miss a meal. 
We stop everything to watch our favorite TV show.
We text or phone people to share the latest gossip. 

If we want to deepen a friendship with someone, we schedule times and places to meet with that person: we never leave these meetings to chance; we battle to make space for them in our day. 
And, yet, we do not make any time for GOD:  GOD, who keeps us in existence from second to second!  
What is true for relationships between human beings is true between human beings and GOD.  
If we want to deepen our friendship with GOD we must schedule times and places to meet Him in prayer.  We cannot leave these meetings with GOD to chance, to when we get around to them.  
We must persevere in prayer, if we want to experience the power of prayer day-to-day, week-to-week,  year-to-year!



THE THIRD TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER:
We should not look for immediate results when we pray.
While we must persevere in our praying, we should not look for immediate results when we pray.
We are so accustomed to having everything done instantly: 
Instant Coffee, Instant Banking, Instant Potatoes, Same-Day Delivery!  We want immediate results.
Warning: Cancel out that ‟instant” stuff when you approach GOD in Prayer! 
GOD never sleeps.  
GOD hears our prayers. 
GOD keeps rearranging  re-synchronizing events, keeps offering us the answer to our prayer –  His answer to our prayer!
GOD responds to every prayer —  in His own time and in His own way.  
GOD’s time may be years after we first prayed.  




THE FOURTH TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER:
GOD’s response, His answer to our prayer may be very different from what we expected or wanted. 


Our Lord gives us what we need, not what we want.

For example:
I think I need a car to travel around the city.

So, I pray, using the song written by Janis Joplin, 



Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? 


Instead, GOD gives me a bicycle: 
Because I did not need a Mercedes Benz!  
I merely, selfishly wanted one! 

However, my prayer was answered: 
I got where I needed to go.

Prayer has power. 

To tap that power, we must persevere at it, and not look for overnight results.






Why all this emphasis on praying?



THE FIFTH TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER:

We are obligated to pray!

We are obligated to pray, but we often ignore it or do it poorly. 

Our Lord Jesus imparted several teachings about the importance of prayer and how to do it:
Luke 18:1-8 -- Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. Please see the full excerpt above.  

Matthew 6:5-13 -- “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.“This is how you are to pray:Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,your will be done, on earth as in heaven.Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts,as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test,but deliver us from the evil one."
Matthew 7:7–8 -- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
Luke 11:5–8 -- And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’  and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence."
After Our Lord's Ascension, His Apostles continued to instruct and guide the early Christians about their obligation to pray, and how to pray worthily.  

For example:

Saint John said, in his First Letter, 1 John 3:21–22 -- 
Beloved, if [our] hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.


Saint Paul wrote in the Letter to the Hebrews -- Hebrews 4:16 --  
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.


Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians --Colossians 4:2 -- said: 
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

Saint Paul wrote to the Thessalonians -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."


Saint Paul wrote to the Ephesians -- Ephesians 6:18
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."
The apostles laid a heavy emphasis on faithful praying because...

Our Lord Jesus constantly prayed to His Father.  
Luke 5:15-16 -- The report about [Jesus cleansing a leper] spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Many, many  times, Our Lord Jesus spent His whole night in prayer.  
Luke 6:12 -- In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.

So, if He considered praying
to be that important,
so should we.



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