Persevere in Prayer
by Fr. Benedict Solomon, O.Praem.
When we begin our community retreats, besides evaluating our faithfulness to the vows, we need to evaluate our faithfulness to prayer: our attention and devotion to the liturgy of the hours, and our habit of mental prayer and meditation.
We can give ourselves many reasonable excuses for not praying. But we are not justified in accepting them. When joining the Norbertine community, we didn’t say we’d give prayer a shot. We made a promise to persevere in its daily practice. It has priority over other duties. Sometimes we will be distracted. We won’t have our books readily at hand. The mood won’t be right. We are called to pray, but we aren’t promised that it will always be pleasant.
When prayer becomes distasteful, what God wants is simply that we choose to pray. In the garden, Christ had an appointment with Judas and the cross, and He still chose to spend time in prayer. The choice of this particular activity assumes the rejection of other activities. And the fact that we choose to pray instead of another activity is in itself pleasing to God, and it proves our trust in Him. It shows that we would prefer to be occupied in His service, rather than our own. And because prayer is so important to us, we should expect it to meet with opposition. Our circumstance, our mood, other activities which are more attractive: These are all obstacles which need to be overcome.
Psychologically it is harder to do an activity to which we have been unfaithful. This is why it is important to keep up the habit of daily mental prayer. At one time, we felt prayer to be infinitely worthwhile. If we have become disenchanted with prayer later on, it is not significant. God doesn’t ask us to feel inspired and enlightened all of the time. But He does ask that we act upon our convictions. He does ask that we make the effort to pray, and our will to go against our disinclination gives Him glory.
“We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.” This complaint from people our Lord says He doesn’t know suggests that, in fact, they considered themselves somewhat close to our Lord—at least at one time.
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