By Fr. Roy Cimagala
MORE than our need for food, water and air, we all need to pray. Prayer is the most basic necessity we have, since that is what unites us with God our Creator and Father in whose life we are supposed to share knowingly and lovingly. And the simple reason is that we have been created in God’s image and likeness.
It may sound too much to express it in words, but how God is, is also how we ought to be. And that very image of God is given to us in Christ who is precisely God who became man to offer us “the way, the truth and the life.” When we pray, we start assuming the identity of Christ. Not only that. We start to share his power and everything in him.
This truth of our Christian faith is somehow illustrated in that gospel episode (cfr. Mk 9,14-29) where the apostles asked Christ why they could not cure the boy who was possessed with a mute spirit. The response of Christ was: “This kind can only come out through prayer.” (Mk 9,29)
We have to realize that prayer should always have priority over all other activities we have during the day. Better said, we have to learn how to convert everything into prayer so that we can say that our whole life is a prayer itself, as it should be.
And that is always possible because all we have to do is to fulfil our duties and responsibilities out of love for God and neighbor, doing them in the best way we can, for such is the way of love. And the duties and responsibilities we have are the usual tasks we do everyday.
It’s when we pray that we manage to relate who we are, what we have, what we do, etc. to our ultimate end which, to be sure, is not something only natural but is also supernatural. Nothing therefore can rival the importance of prayer. In other words, prayer is irreplaceable, unsubstitutable, indispensable. It’s never optional, though it has to be done freely if we want our prayer to be real prayer.
Of course, we also have to understand that prayer can lend itself to many different ways. There’s vocal prayer, mental prayer, contemplative prayer, liturgical prayer, ejaculatory prayer, etc. It can adapt itself to different situations and conditions.
The absolutely important thing that makes prayer real prayer is when we manage to give all our mind and heart to God in whatever thing we do or in whatever situation we may find ourselves in.
We have to be reminded that the quality of our prayer determines in the end the quality of our life. How our prayer is will somehow shape how our life will be. And that’s simply because our prayer is the basic way of connecting with God who is the source and keeper of our life, and in fact, in whose image and likeness we have been created, and whose life we are supposed to participate.
We have to train ourselves in this area. It’s actually easy to do because being a spiritual operation, prayer can always transcend whatever limitation we can have in time and space. It can even transcend whatever conditions we are subject to—physical, emotional, psychological, temperamental as well as social, political, economic, etc. It can be done anytime, anywhere. If we would just have the mind to do it, it can actually be done always.