by Catherine Doherty
How many of us have been taught to pray? In the home, in the parish, prayer must be given first place. Prayer must become an integrated part of our daily lives, the most important part. We cannot go on in this era of twilight between two civilizations, one dying and one being born, without the fullness of our spiritual heritage, without prayer.
The first step in praying is to understand who we are. We must acknowledge that we are creatures, saved sinners, entirely dependent on God. We must be, as the Bible says, anawim, poor people of God, the people of the Beatitudes who know that they depend on God. We must face ourselves and realize that we cannot exist on our own, that we are dependent on God.
To the proud, this is detestable. We look at ourselves and want to say, "I depend on no one." But in the very saying, we realize that this is not so: we do depend on God. This is the beginnng of prayer: that we become beggars before God.
To begin to pray we must first cleanse our souls of arrogance and pride. Only when we come to God in humility, realizing our inner poverty, can we follow him who had nowhere to lay his head. Prayer is the interpersonal relationship of a poor person with the Poor Man: Jesus Christ.
The real answer to all our problems is to turn toward God with lifted hands, trusting in his promises and mercy, moved by love. If a person stands with uplifted hands, as Moses did, then the miracle of action will take place.
Christ has said, "Without me you can do nothing." But if in prayer we are one with him, we can do everything. This is the miracle that takes place: by prayer a person extends himself. He remains on "the mountain" of prayer but at the same time the power of his prayer brings action, whatever is needed.
We must all lead one another to the top of the mountain to pray, because prayer is dynamic, and prayer is holy. As we grow in union with God we come to realize that it is through prayer that stems all the goodness that God wants to give mankind.
What is this prayer, what is this union with God, then? It is a man or a woman or a child moved with his or her whole being to communicate with the loving God, to respond to God's great love. The words of prayer change into beautiful songs when they reach God.
Whether we pray the rosary, offer petitions for relatives or the needs of the world, we are caught up in something greater than ourselves, something that is cosmic: The whole universe is bowing down in adoration to God, and those who pray and who love him join in that adoration.
There is only one way to lead people to God: teach them to pray, and pray for them.
Article with Permission: Madonna House Publications under a Creative Commons License