Let’s persevere in prayer

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

Chatting with young people, the complaint I usually hear is that they find it difficult to pray, let alone, to persevere in praying. They feel awkward, they find themselves dry and uninspired, distractions often bother them, they feel they do not have enough materials or topics to take up in their prayer, etc.

The immediate reply I also usually make is that they should bring up as the first topic of their prayer the way they feel at the moment, reassuring them that God is a father who will understand us always even if we have not been behaving well.

I encourage them to treat God as a father to whom they can confide anything at all, unafraid to talk about some dark, bad things that may be lingering in their mind and heart. God is not scandalized by anything. He is all there for us, to help us, to enlighten, encourage, and inspire us.

From there, of course, I introduce them to the idea that for us to engage God with meaningful, substantial, and lasting conversation, we definitely need to prepare our prayer. There can be two stages of preparation —the remote and the proximate.

The remote preparation can be in the form of always referring to God whatever happens to us during the day, taking note of our thoughts, desires, interests, how we have done our work, how we have fulfilled our duties, etc. I tell them that it is always helpful to put into writing those passing insights and observations we have in the course of the day.

Of course, it also helps to make a list of topics and intentions to which we refer ourselves often during the day, so that we can have some direction in our spiritual considerations during the day. It also helps to develop a set of devotions if only to train our mind and heart to be focused on the spiritual and supernatural realities of our life.

Everything should be offered or at least referred to God. That way, we would always be in his presence which is so important and necessary for us, because without him the only thing to happen to us is to be tempted and to fall eventually.

The proximate preparation would consist of making many acts of faith, hope and charity, or acts of contrition and thanksgiving, if only to generate heat and passion for prayer. It’s important that our prayer be done in a lively way, or that at least, it should involve and engage our more important faculties—our mind, will, heart, our feelings and emotions.

It’s when we are hot at prayer that we can manage to have focus and direction in our considerations. We would also be in a better position to ward off distractions which we should expect because the enemies of our soul—our wounded flesh, the world and the devil—would also intensify their tricks the more intent we are in getting close to God.

There are, of course, good days and bad days insofar as our prayer life is concerned. We should not make a big fuss over it. What we have to do is just to move on and to continue exerting effort to pray even if the feelings are not there, even if we feel dry and uninspired.

Let’s remember these reassuring words of Christ: “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given. From the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mk 4,24-25)

There is no doubt that if we persevere in prayer, in spite of all the in spites of, we will get closer to God. Our relationship with him would get more intimate. The Holy Spirit would make himself more felt in us!

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com