Prayer is a Battle


By Philip Yuson

Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant
before Christ, as well as the Mother of GOD, the saints, and He Himself, all teach us this: Prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with GOD. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in His Name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer. (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2722)

This is how the Church defines Prayer. It says that prayer is a gift of grace. GOD is the one who initiates it. The desire to pray is given by GOD as a gift. It is not the result of our good work nor is it an indication of our level of spirituality. It is a gift from GOD. Since this is a gift from GOD, it requires a response from us. The Catechism also calls it a battle. It takes effort to pray.

I have often encountered people give a lot of reasons why they do not pray. These are some of them:
1. I do not feel like praying. Faith is not a feeling. Our relationship with Jesus is not based on feeling. It is based on a decision to love Him. We can use feelings during prayer. But it should not be the reason for not praying. I know a person who said that when he prays, he felt dry. He felt uneasy. When he read Scripture, nothing would stick. The priest he talked to said, "Just sit it out. Your coming before the Lord is prayer itself".
2. My work is my prayer. True, but this should not be the ONLY prayer. The Catholic Church has a treasury of prayers. The Mass is the highest form of prayer. Even if it is the most perfect of all prayers, the Church still encourages her children to pray in other ways, such as the Rosary, the Divine Office, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, novenas to name a few. Blessed Mother Teresa is known for her good works. Everyone knows her because she served the poorest of the poor. Her congregation starts their day with Mass. Blessed Mother Teresa is known to pray daily before the Blessed Sacrament for one hour. This reason for not spending time with the Lord leads us to reason number three.
3. I have no time. I believe that this is the most flimsy excuse for not praying. If something is important, one will make time for it. If this is the reason one gives for not praying, then one must look at the priorities one has set. A preacher once said that children do not spell love as L-O-V-E. They spell it as T-I-M-E. The time we spend for something tells us how much priority we give it. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. If one cannot find at least 15 minutes a day (which I personally think is too short) to reflect on GOD's Word, what does that say about one's relationship with GOD? 15 minutes is a little more than 1% of 1,440 minutes. To put it in another perspective, if one has $1,440 cash with nowhere to spend it, can one afford to give $15, $30 or even $60?

The Catechism continues to say great figures in the Old Testament, Mary, the saints and Jesus Himself, show that prayer is a battle. One of the things I learned is if I want to be successful, I have to learn from those who have succeeded. Mary and the saints are in Heaven. Of the lives of saints I have read, all of them show that the saints have deep love for the Eucharist and Scripture. I want to go to Heaven. The only way to get there is developing a personal relationship with Jesus. The only way to do that is through prayer.

Prayer is a battle. This implies that one has to exert a lot of effort into it. GOD continues to call us to a deeper relationship. But we have to respond. May we be able to respond to GOD's leadings for the sake of our salvation and for the glory of His Name.

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