We assume prayer should be effortless. But it’s like love. We fall in love and it’s wonderful, and so we assume that when a relationship becomes difficult or unpleasant for very long, we’re falling out of love. Rather than seeing bad times in marriage (or any friendship) as periods of growth and new levels of maturity (which requires hard work and sacrifices, in imitation of Christ’s ministry), we interpret it as reasons for divorce. Or for not getting married at all but just living together until it’s time that somebody moves out.
Prayer, too, is hard work. It’s very hard for some of us to get up early enough in the morning to make it to daily Mass or to pray with spouses before heading off to work. (A quick kiss and a shared prayer of “God bless our day” is nice, but how far can that go in keeping the romance alive and our hearts connected to Christ?)
It’s very hard to pray for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in the middle of a heated argument. It’s hard to pray for the peace of Christ when we feel like fighting the friend who is telling us something we don’t want to hear. It’s hard to pray with joyful trust when we’re grumbling and complaining. But these are the circumstances when prayer is more important than ever!
This week, I began a new habit. Or, at least I hope (and pray) it becomes a habit. Scriptures say, in many verses and many ways, that praying cheerfully — praising God — is the most powerful way to defeat our enemies (such as fear, discouragement, doubt, low self esteem, ill health, obstacles, and even demonic harassment). We are supposed to give God thanks in all situations, because he is good! (“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.” ~ Ps 118:21a)
One of my problems is not enough exercise. I do most of my ministry from behind a computer screen. Sitting. My busily-typing fingers are lean but not the rest of me!
I love taking walks through my peaceful neighborhood in the dark of evening, and it’s easy to walk a mile, so you’d think I’d get out there and use this wonderful opportunity to become fit, right? At first after moving here, yes, but it’s become very hard to get myself outside for the first few steps. And yet, if I make it down the driveway, my whole attitude changes and I gladly keep going.
Another of my problems is not having a lively, regular opportunity to gather with other faith-filled people who know the power of prayer that comes from praising and worshipping together in the Holy Spirit. (A note to my New Zealand lady friends: You have a tremendous gift in the Dove Ministry for Catholic Women — use it!) Without this, life is much, much harder and sadder. Choosing the holy way over temptations is much more difficult. Hearing God and knowing it’s God who has spoken is much harder to discern. And experiencing the supernatural (which is supposed to be normal Christian living; just read the Book of Acts to see proof of this) is nearly non-existent!
I like solving problems; thus my new habit is to take walks singing praises to God! My songbook-memory has faded in my brain from lack of use, and so I invent songs when I can’t think of anything else to sing. Probably, angels are walking with me and singing, too; I’m guessing that’s why my made-up songs sound good.
Now, I’m fantasizing that other people will join me in these praise and worship walks, so that we can all motivate each other, but hey, praise God that I have angels for companions!
© 2013 by Terry A. Modica
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