Brothers good evening, I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer lately, even before Father DiTomo’s timely homily on prayer at the July 30th 9:00am mass. If you haven’t heard it or perhaps attended a different mass that day, I would strongly encourage you to go back and give it a listen on YouTube.
So, the question I have been asking myself and one I would like to pose to all of you is, do we learn to pray or is prayer innate?
Innate- Existing in, belonging to, or determined by factors present in an individual from birth, Native, Inborn.
Reflecting on my experience as a child, my memories of prayer consist of; 1) Observing my grandmother who prayed the rosary and attended mass daily, 2) Saying prayers as a family at meal and bedtime and learning prayers from attending mass and CCD.
I’m sure like most of us as kids, we prayed for real important things like, not getting caught for something we shouldn’t have been doing in the first place. Getting a good grade on a math test, and my favorite, hoping the pretty girl in home room would eventually give in and agree to go out with you.
What does the catechism of the Catholic Church say about prayer?
The catechism clearly defines prayer as a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God (CCC no.2558), a covenant relationship between God, Man, and Christ (CCC no. 2564).
My favorite definition of prayer is by St. Therese of Lisieux who states, “for me, prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (CCC no. 2558).
Recognizing the fact that there are many of you in this room this evening that are more qualified than me in the matter of prayer, I have come to the conclusion that prayer for me, is more innate than learned however it is a combination of both. I say this because I have many family members and friends that pray even though they have not been exposed to any formalized religion or faith. My prayers started by asking for things and now, the focus has shifted from myself-centeredness to humility, being thankful and praying for others. Also in my case, when I found myself in the deepest darkest depths of my alcohol addiction, I never stopped praying.
Although all our prayer lives may look different from each other, I was gifted a book by Matthew Kelly from a TMIY friend entitled “Amazing Possibilities-365 Days of Inspiration which is part of my daily morning ritual and I would like to share some thought-provoking insight related to prayer.
Excerpts March 23, and July 12.
PRAYERLESSNESS is one of the great torments of modern times. For decades the time we spend in focused prayer has been diminishing as our lives have become busier and busier. We have fallen into the tyranny of the urgent, which demands that we rush from one urgent thing to the next. The problems with this is that the most important things are hardly ever urgent. This can leave us always doing urgent things but never important things. It is these most important things that we never get around to in this cycle. Prayer is one of these important things, and among the highest priority. Prayer helps us to identify what matters most and strengthens our hearts and minds to give priority to those things in our daily lives. What could be most important than prayer?
“PRAY CONSTANTLY” was St. Paul’s invitation, and it is a beautiful principle of the spiritual life. But is most have not been taught to pray and establish a habit of daily prayers in their lives, you can be certain they have not been taught how to transform the ordinary moments of their days into prayer. Every honest human activity can be transformed into prayer. Learning to transform daily activities into prayer was one of the greatest spiritual lessons of my life. And it is so simple. Offer the next hour of your work for a friend who is sick. Offer the task you are at least looking forward to today to God as a prayer for the person you know who is suffering most today, and do that task with great love, better than you have ever done it. Offer each task, one at a time, to God as a prayer for a specific intention, and do so with love. Pray for others as they come to mind throughout the day. This is how we are able to keep the epic conversation going, this never-ending conversation of a lifetime of conversation. It’s ongoing and constant. And what is more important than this conversation?
Brothers if you haven’t done so lately, take a look at your prayer life, are you checking off boxes, going through the motions, or can we do better?
As Pope John Paul II said, “prayer can truly change your life, for it turns your attention away from yourself and directs your mind and heart towards the Lord”.
Lecturer, KofC Council #11666
August 6, 2023