Spirituality for Today – January 2009 – Volume 13, Issue 6


By Rev. Mark Connolly

One of the greatest values anyone can develop this coming year of 2009 is a sense of prayerfulness. We know prayer links us to God. Prayer anchors us to Christ. Prayer, in time of panic, helps us to have peace of mind when everything else fails. Every major religion relies, and has for centuries, on the power of prayer. History and theology are filled with lessons on how the power of prayer helps us when everything else fails. So it seems to me quite contradictory that so many in this time of a sagging stock market or a predicted recession have such a feeling of helplessness.

A photo of a person silhouetted against a colorful sunrise

Our whole religion has been based on the fact that every Good Friday is followed by an Easter Sunday. Our whole religion is based on the words Christ spoke pertaining to prayer when he said, "ask and you will receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be open to you." All we have been hearing about for the last several months is the repetitious story of an economy in peril. Today our unemployment rate is about 6.7%. During the depression in 1932 it was 25%.

Through the years, I have gone to Sloan Kettering and see people filled with cancer fighting for their lives. I have gone to St. Vincent's in Silver Hill and see people fighting for peace of mind. When you see people in ordinary hospitals trying to cope with a stroke or an Alzheimer condition, really these things are the real problems of life. The sense of prayerfulness gives us a sense of balance. A sense of balance reminds us, yes, we have wonderful things happening in our own life, but not every day is going to be perfect.

Go back into the history of the Church and read the lives of certain people like a saintly mother in the Fourth Century. Here was an example of a woman who had the most delinquent son in the history of the Church. He fathered an illegitimate child, indulged in drugs and homosexuality and yet his mother for over nineteen years prayed that God would redirect his life and God did. He became a Christian, became a Catholic, a Catholic priest, a Catholic bishop and a Catholic saint. His name is St. Augustine. But the mother, St. Monica, is a classic example of how prayer works when you really believe that prayer can work. She believe, along with St. Paul and Tennyson, that more things are brought about by prayer than this world dreams of and she proved it.

Prayer helps us to listen to what God has in mind for us.

Prayer helps us to listen to what God has in mind for us. Prayer gives us insight that we get in no other way. Prayer helps us in time of great crisis to cry out with Christ and say, not my will be done, but yours. Prayer does not change God. It makes us aware of the changes that God wants us to make in our own lives. The famous line of St. Augustine applies to us – work as if every thing depended on yourself and pray as if every thing depended on God.

Prayer teaches us acceptance of the will of God. Every one from our Blessed Mother to Mother Teresa lived their lives filled with the acceptance of the will of God. Prayer teaches us conformity to the will of God. Christ spent his whole life doing the work of His Father in Heaven. We, too, must imitate what Christ did.

Prayer teaches us resignation to the will of God. We know that from the words of Christ when he said, "into your hand, O Lord, I commend my spirit", that at the end of our life Christ is not concerned with our balance sheet or credentials. He is concerned with only one thing. Did you do the work of Christ and His Father well on earth.

Prayer teaches us these qualities – acceptance, conformity and resignation – all of which were implemented during the life of Christ. During the next few months we will be hearing more about sub-prime mortgages, more fall outs from various banks, maybe words about higher unemployment, but we always have to keep in mind the fact that every country, in every decade, there are a series of problems similar to ours. Prayer doesn't solve our problems, prayer helps us to tolerate them.

Prayer was something that Christ repeatedly taught to his apostles. Prayer is something for a total life. It is interesting to find out what kind of a prayer life you have whenever a crisis occurs. If Christ were to come into your life at this moment, knowing that you are carrying a big cross, would He say to you, "well done, good and faithful servant, enter my kingdom", or would He look upon you as one in a state of panic, almost directionless, and say to you, "O you of little faith." Every thing depends on the prayerful relationship you have with God. It all depends on how you value prayer in a time of crisis.