The Power of Prayer
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes three different kinds of Prayer: First of all, we have “Vocal Prayer”. Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master’s silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gethsemane.
A second kind of prayer is called “Meditation”. Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. We ask the question as we meditate: ”Lord, what do you want me to do?” Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire.
A third kind of prayer is “Contemplative Prayer”. St. Teresa of Avila describes this kind of prayer: “Contemplative prayer, in my opinion, is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.”Contemplative prayer seeks him “whom my soul loves.” It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle.
God never answers my prayers so why should I bother praying?
Jesus told the parable of the Persistent Widow (Lk 18;1-8) to remind us of the importance of the virtue of patience in praying. We can’t be like the person who said, “Dear Lord, help me be patient — right now!” God answers our prayers, but in God’s time, not ours. Sometimes we don’t receive the desired answer. An anonymous author put it well:
I asked for strength that I might achieve;
He made me weak that I might obey.
I asked for health that I might do great things;
He gave me grace that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
He gave me poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
He gave me weakness that I might feel a need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
He gave me life that I might enjoy all things.
I received nothing I had asked for;
He gave me all I had hoped for.
Remember that God always answers sincere prayer. But again, God’s answer might be something we don’t expect. Sometimes God answers “no” to our desires because they would harm us. At other times God helps us see that what we are praying for is something that we can accomplish on our own with gifts he has already given us. But God will always provide the superabundant gift of love to those who pray. Recall Jesus’ own promise:
“What father among you, if his son asked for a fish, would hand him a snake? Or if he asked for an egg, hand him a scorpion? If you then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:11-13).
Please note the wise observation of Trappist Monk Basil Pennington on prayer: God will give us whatever we want, asking in prayer — what we truly want, not what we say we want or even think we want. God listens to the heart, not to the lips. He knows, too, how limited our understanding and knowledge are. He sees our truest desires and knows how they can best be fulfilled. And this is what he grants. We may not see it at the moment, but we will in time…. If God seems to be saying “No” to some prayers, it is because he is saying “Yes” to the deepest prayer of our hearts. There are three answers to prayer: Yes, No, and Wait Awhile…
Three Simple Prayers When Praying is Hard
Every Christian has at least one time in their faith journey when they feel spiritually dry. For some, this time in the spiritual desert lasts for a brief period of time and for others it can last for a lifetime. If you’ve spent a prolonged time in the midst of a dry spell, sometimes it can be too hard to even muster a simple Hail Mary or Our Father.However, we can rely on a few very short prayers that are quick to say while still expressing what is in our hearts.
Help my unbelief! – These three little words are pulled straight from Scripture. A man brings his son who is possessed by a demon to Jesus and begs Jesus to drive the demon out. Jesus responds to him that everything is possible to those who have faith, and the father cries “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-32). The father recognised that while he did believe, his faith was still lacking. This little prayer asks God to help our unbelief, wherever it is that our faith falls short.
Thy Will Be Done – In the times where we can get easily sidetracked, we can focus on these four little words. This line from the prayer sums up the heart of the Christian message: for God’s will to be done in each of our lives. When we send these words towards Heaven, we are not only asking for God’s will to be done, but we are truthfully asking for Him to send us the strength and grace to accept and carry out His will, whatever that may be.
Show me where You are in this; show me Your peace – This short prayer can really help when we are being asked to make a difficult decision. We pray that God will send us an answer that was as clear as day to us, and that we experience a strong wave of consolation. This can be a powerful prayer in any situation – good or bad – because it centres our heart and mind to God, and seeks to find Him wherever we may be in that moment.
Please enjoy our Resources for Prayer.