Updated: Sep 23, 2021
Dear friends in Christ,
Prayer allows the soul to breathe. Without prayer, we become spiritually asphyxiated. It would be a terrible tragedy if someone was physically choked to death. But it would even more catastrophic if a person stops breathing spiritually. When we stop praying the soul dies. There are many dead people walking around. To choose not to pray is a form of spiritual suicide. But to be fair, for most people it is not a deliberate choice, but rather a lapse due to a failure to appreciate its absolute importance.
To change the image, we need to be convinced that a time of prayer each day is as important as daily eating and drinking. We take care to feed the body, but we fail to feed the soul. We have been so secularised in our minds by the current culture that we can readily go through a day without turning our mind to God at all, living as if he does not exist. Of course, most of us will fulfill our religious obligations on Sunday and maybe even go to Mass during the week. This is to be commended, but how committed are we to a time aside with the Lord each day, to be aware of his presence and to absorb his love?
Another way of speaking about this is to compare our spiritual life to a good marriage. Husband and wife need time aside with one another on a regular basis to foster the relationship. Otherwise, they may remain faithful but are not growing in intimacy. Hence they will be gradually growing apart from one another. Our relationship with the Lord is similar. Even though we may be serving in ministry or engaging in charitable works with others, we can still be drifting away from the Lord and losing contact with him and his love for us. The Lord desires genuine relationship first, and then the works will flow from our union with him.
The classic Scriptural text in this regard is the story of Martha and Mary. Martha loved the Lord, but in this instance, she was so busy in the kitchen serving that she had not really spent time with the Lord himself. She complains because Mary is simply sitting at his feet absorbing his presence. Jesus replies, “Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things, but Mary has chosen the one thing that matters”. Jesus was not rebuking Martha for her service, but that she had lost touch with the most important thing – being with him, relishing his presence and listening to his voice of love. All our serving of the Lord needs to be informed by our joy in his presence and our love for the Master. This attitude will be fostered by a daily time aside with Jesus.
And what should this time aside be like? It is wasting time in his presence, allowing ourselves to experience his love as we pour out to him the anguish of our hearts. It is being real with him about what’s happening within our hearts and in our circumstances. It is encountering his mercy and love for us in our daily reality. Sometimes we are full of thanksgiving and praise. Other times we are deeply sorry and cry out for mercy. Other times we are feeling vulnerable and need his healing touch. Whatever our existential state, we are simply in his presence absorbing his love. This is the anchor for the soul, the hope for our hearts, and lasting joy for lives.
Blessings to you all,