Asking about how we use our always available resource of prayer is no different from asking ourselves how we use any of our available resources. Suppose I have some good medical training under my belt. Now I am driving someplace and see an accident of any kind. And I decide not to help this or that person. I don’t even bother to call 911. A phone is, after all, another resource. So that is two resources that I choose not to use. Now the person in the accident dies. Don’t you feel that there should be someone saying to me, “shame on you?” I certainly think so.
Now, to be honest with you, I do not have any formal medical training. I wonder how many people do, in fact. However, all of us can pray. At a minimum the vast majority of us have at least one memorized prayer that we probably learned as a child. And I dare say that most of us can do better than one memorized prayer. So, that’s a resource that we have. How well do we use this resource?
Whenever I read in the newspaper of someone who died, I immediately say a prayer for that person’s soul. If I am driving and see either a police cruiser or an ambulance go past me with sirens and lights on, I feel compelled to say a prayer then too. I may even pray in my own words. “God, please be present to whoever is in need!”
I know that I shared with you that my father, who always wore a hat, would tip his hat whenever he drove past a Catholic Church. If he didn’t wear a hat that particular day, he would slightly bow his head. That’s as good a prayer as any! He is, after all, acknowledging God! It’s like the man sitting in a church in the mid 19th century just gazing at the Tabernacle. The pastor there was a famous saint named St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney. Curious, St. John went up to him and asked how he prayed. The man responded, “I look at him and he looks at me!” Yes, that is prayer too!
So how well do we ourselves utilize this resource that all of us have? The resource of prayer? Suppose our prayer would make all the difference in the world? Would we regret not praying? I would certainly think so. And it does, you know, make a difference. In some studies that I have read at least, it would stun you to discover how much a difference it makes objectively to a situation. And you would be amazed to learn how much a difference it makes to us to pray! If I knew how much I, myself, am healed when I pray for another, I don’t think that I would stop praying! The effect both on myself and others is that powerful. Blessed Lawrence of the Resurrection said that we would be amazed if we knew what our souls said to God in the middle of the night. Wow! So many people of all walks of life, both religious and scientific, all saying the same thing. It has to make you wonder; wonder enough anyway that you cannot help but be encouraged to pray more. I do pray for you. Please pray for me as well!
Peace, Fr. Walt