Why bother praying?!

'Pray without ceasing'
Over the past few days I have been ever more conscious of the beautiful ministry of intercessory prayer which I am called to as a Disciple of the Divine Master. There have been many prayer requests through Twitter, Facebook, email, text, letters and general day to day encounters. Friends have lost dear ones, sickness has come to family members, families risk division. Life is hard for students, those looking for jobs or deciding to emigrate or not. Every day, I have the blessing and the mission to spend time in prayer interceding for the needs of the world. I have the chapel just a few metres from my room so I can come before Jesus in the Eucharist and ‘hold up the world in prayer’, to use an image from the liturgy of this Sunday past. In the First Reading we read how Moses' hands grew tired from being extended in prayer; so his companions Aaron and Hur put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile these same companions supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. (Book of Exodus 17:8-13). The Gospel continues with Jesus telling his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.

The reality is that we do become weary not necessarily by the big things but by the little things which build up and get on top of us. As one of my friends likes to say: “it is not the Cross or the nails, it is the splinters!”. It is humbling to admit you are struggling with a problem you cannot handle. Some people will not let down their fa├žade of being in control; they insist they can and will handle the situation, no matter what. However, it is easy in life to become worn down by the day to day difficulties of each day.It is hard to motor on when we can’t see beyond our own pain and tears and the road seems so solitary that we are afraid to take the next step. Imagine what it would be like to have absolutely no burdens at all. I realize that life and love are all about burdens and how we bear them. Burdens are a part of life, and those who are burdened are those who love and through love we find that we are alive. But we are not on our own! There is always ‘Aaron and Hur’ to hold up our arms in prayer. Ok, so someone is not coming to come and literally hold up our arms, that would be just weird! However, people can hold us up in prayer, support us when we are down and find it hard to rise from the dust of our own weakness and insecurity. We can pray with them and be there for them.

But why do we pray for others? It is not that we are any better or superior than those who need to be prayed for. We all need to be prayed for as we are reminded in James 5:16 to "pray for one another". It sounds like a simple request but the Lord urges this upon us because He knows the power of prayer. He knows what prayer can do, not only for the ones for whom we have prayed but for us as well. We need to pray, not to impress God but because it strengthens us and increases our faith. Intercession helps us to see with spiritual eyesight the needs of others and to lift our voices to God's throne on behalf of others once we see that need. Praying for others requires we lay aside our own selfish needs. Intercessory prayer is open and unselfish. But all of us have been called to pray and to pray often. The prayer of others for me in times of challenge and difficulty has always been a firm support in my life and for this I am grateful.

We pray for others because we are all God's children. Everyone is a part of humanity, a tapestry of mankind woven together from all ages, cultures and experiences. Our heart has to learn to care for others and be receptive to their needs because they are a part of us. Every evening before I go to bed, I go to my little prayer space and I remember all those dear to me, those who ask prayer, those who are afraid of the night and what it brings, those who are anxious and cannot sleep, those who will go home to God. I present them to God who already knows what they need. In this little prayer space I have,  I am reminded of all my friends when I look at the Icon of Friendship. I ask the maternal protection of our Lady, Mother of Perpetual Help for all when I see the icon with her image. When I see the icon of St. Paul and our saints, I pray for the Pauline Family spread throughout the world and pray that we may be faithful sons and daughters of our Founder James Alberione. I look at the ceramic statue of a little baby which was made by our sisters in Korea, and I recall all the children in the world, especially those who may be under threat. I like to place the statue on the page of John’s Gospel which recalls the Incarnation, a messy event which would completely change the course of history. I see the candle and I recall that Christ is the Light and there is always light in the darkness, no matter how it may seem.

You are all held close in my prayers, never forget that! Let God take the weight of the burden you were never meant to carry by yourself. In exchange, He will give you the Holy Spirit's power to enable you to face any of life's challenges. In your kindness, remember this little sister in your prayers too! Thanks.

Comments

  1. Thank you! Even 3 years later your blog makes sense and means a lot.

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