Prayer is the oxygen for our souls!

Dear Friends in Christ:

Prayer is the oxygen for our souls! When we deprive our souls of the oxygen of prayer, we diminish our ability to handle all the things life throws at us. A life with little or no oxygen of prayer reduces our chances of thriving in our relationships and endeavors, both spiritual and earthly. Prayer keeps us spiritually strong because it keeps us close to God who is the source of life. Prayer strengthens our souls because in prayer we encounter God who is truth, goodness, and beauty. When we have a healthy prayer life, problems still come but we have a means to handle them, overcome them, and in many instances, prevent them all together. When we are strong in prayer, we gain supernatural aid and heavenly assistance. Prayer helps us to be understanding, patient, forgiving, hopeful, generous, trusting, and steadfast. Prayer assists in reducing anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and worry.

While we might acknowledge the benefits and necessity of prayer, we can still be like the apostles who pleaded with Jesus, “Teach us to pray!” Even for the most committed believer, prayer can be dry, listless, or even empty. At times, prayer can seem like going through the motions. Difficulty in prayer does not mean a lack of faith. Prayer is a relationship and like any relationship, there can be periods of vibrancy and periods that do not seem vibrant at all. During dry spells (aridity in prayer) or times when prayer is difficult, I have always found it helpful to dig deep and not give up! It is precisely when I do not feel like praying or find prayer difficult that I know that I need to pray the most. It is in these moments that we can turn to God and share with him where we are emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. Start the conversation. God is there and He is listening.

Another help in prayer is to take the words of the Mass, scripture, the rosary, hymns, or favorite prayers and break them up into smaller pieces. I like to take a phrase, or a sentence or two, reflect on it, savor the meaning, and then make them my own words to God or to the blessed Mother or one of the saints. Some of these smaller pieces can become “go-to” prayers or “prayer starters.” Traditionally, prayers can be grouped into prayers of Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (ACTS). Prayers of Adoration are prayers in which we adore and praise God just for being God! Adoration is captured in its essence by simply saying “I love you!” Prayers of Contrition are when we express our sorrow to God for our sins and failures, selfishness, and pride. “I am sorry God, please forgive me.” Thanksgiving Prayers are acknowledging the countless blessings in our lives and knowing we are not responsible for them. In humility and gratitude, we recognize and appreciate that everything is a gift. “Thank you, God!” Prayers of Supplication are turning to God in our need. Realizing, that we cannot do it on our own, recognizing the sovereignty, omnipotence, and omniscience of God, we ask for his help. For human beings it is impossible, but nothing is impossible for God! “Please, God! I need you!”

St. Paul instructs us to “pray unceasingly” but none of us can be 24/7 in the chapel. We still must eat, sleep, and work. Yet, we can have a constant awareness of God and turn to him throughout the day. Having set times of prayer as anchors in our day (and our week), helps us to stay strong in prayer. Prayer and routine go together. A discipline of prayer is a great assistance to our relationship with God. Pray in the morning, evening, and at night. Pray before meals and before beginning a task or after completing one. These moments of prayer do not have to be of the same duration. In the morning, we thank God for the new day and entrust all the things of the coming day into his hands. At night, we can thank God for all He has blessed us with and the help He has given us during the day. We can ask for forgiveness for our failures of today and for His help for tomorrow. I always like to end my night prayers with “I love you, God!”

In Pace Christ,

Fr. Troy