By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
OF COURSE, St. Paul himself said so: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances. For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes 5,16-18)
And in that episode of Christ visiting the house of the sisters Martha and Mary, the primacy of prayer is again emphasized. “Martha, Martha,” Christ said to Martha who was busy with so many things and was disturbed that her sister seemed to be doing nothing except to gaze at Christ, “you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10,41-42)
If we realize our life will always be a life with God, then prayer should be a constant thing with us since prayer keeps that relationship going. That’s the proper condition of our human life. Without prayer, we are actually not being human, not being a child of God as we should be.
Of course, we have to understand prayer not simply as reciting some vocal prayers and doing novenas and other devotions. Prayer is simply the upliftment of the heart and mind to God, and this may not require words and special acts. It may just be a sentiment, a certain awareness that we are with God.
That’s why we have to learn how to convert everything in our lives into a form of prayer. There should be nothing in our life that shouldn’t be an act of prayer, since there should be nothing in our life where we shouldn’t be with God. To be sure, God is always with us. We just have to learn also to be always with him.
This requires some training, just as we have to learn the tasks relevant to all our human needs: eating properly, walking, cleaning ourselves, studying, working, etc.
In prayer there is something special since it’s more a spiritual task than a physical one. And it links us with the supernatural world, with God, and not just with people and the natural world. The appropriate adjustments in our minds and attitudes should be made.
That is why we need to spend time and conscious effort to learn to pray, beginning with basic exercises like reciting some vocal prayers and on to the higher levels of prayer like mental prayer, meditation, and contemplation. Hopefully, we can graduate from simply doing the baby steps to becoming real experts and professionals in prayer.
We have to exercise our faith always. Thus we have to know and master the doctrine of our faith, something that will require time and effort. We have to internalize our faith and let it inspire and guide us in our prayer.
With that faith, we will realize that everything, in fact, can be a material and an occasion for prayer. Even our most mundane activities can be converted into prayer as long as we offer it to God, doing it with the best of our intentions and effort.
Everything can be made to give glory to God, to thank him, to expiate for our sins and to ask for favors. Remember St. Paul saying, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10,31) We would be praying that way.
Even our problems and difficulties can and, in fact, should be used as a material and reason for prayer. When temptations come and when we fall into sin, we ought to pray to go back to God and ask for mercy. Things get worse when we run away from him, instead to going back to him.