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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, March 1, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Pray without ceasing

Yes, that is actually what is proper to us. We need to pray without ceasing, as St. Paul told us in his First Letter to the Thessalonians. (5,16) To keep our spiritual life alive, to make it survive all trials in life, let alone, to make it work effectively and grow healthily, we need to pray without letup.

What food is to our biological life, prayer is to our spiritual life. Prayer is like the breathing and the very beating of the heart of our life with God and with others. It is the primary and abiding link we have with God and with everybody else. Without it, we would simply isolate ourselves.

In short, we can say that while God is objectively with us, since he is present everywhere, we have to make sure that on our part, we should also be subjectively with him. Precisely, St. Augustine once complained about this problem of God being with us while we are not with him. We need to correspond to this objective reality of our unbreakable and intimate relation with God.

And more than just mouthing some vocal prayers, which are also good moments of prayer, it's the moment-to-moment awareness of God's presence, made alive by referring everything to him—conferring with him, consulting, asking questions or help, etc.—that comprises our prayer. The stream of our consciousness itself should be prayer!

We have to be wary of what Christ himself warned us: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Mt 6,7)

Our prayer should come from our heart. It should reflect the unvarnished reality of our heart. Never mind if it does not look very beautiful yet. We just have to pray with faith, like a person who feels a great need for God precisely because of his frailties, if not, his sins, defects and failures.

With that attitude toward prayer, we can easily enter into an intimate conversation with God, like a little child confiding to his father who will always understand and help him regardless of the child's conditions.

To be sure, our filial prayer would not undermine our common sense, our contact with the daily realities, our interest in the arts, sciences and technologies, our involvement in all the mundane and temporal human affairs—our business, politics, sports, entertainment, etc.

Rather, our prayer sharpens and fosters all of these human operations. If done properly, it would purify and deepen our understanding of things, and strengthen our involvement in our earthly daily affairs.

Praying all the time is always possible and doable, because it does not need a bodily organ for it to be done. It is a spiritual operation that can transcend the use of our bodily faculties. It is more a matter of attitude, of belief, which we can always have even if it is not expressly articulated or bodily manifested.

As such, it can be done in any situation — while we are working, playing, resting, having fun, etc. But it would be good that we spend some moments of vocal or mental prayer, engaging God in a loving conversation, for these would help us to be prayerful in all our other activities and situations in life.

Thus, we have to be ready to do some vocal prayers and mental prayer. These are exercises that can build and fuel our life of prayer. With them, we engage God in a more direct way, and in a more loving way, giving him due worship and adoration.

Besides, those moments of vocal prayer and mental prayer would be good moments to thank God for everything we have received, and also to ask for pardon for the mistakes and sins we have committed, as well as to ask for favors that we need.

With prayer, we can get to be receptive to God's will and ways. We become familiar with his words and his teachings that are a sure guide in our life. With it, we are not simply living our life on our own. We would be living it with God, which is how our life should be, since we are his creatures, and creatures made in his image and likeness, meant to enter and take part in the very life of God himself.

We have to continually work on the proper dispositions for prayer. We have to learn to pray with faith and love, confidence and trust in God, with humility and simplicity, with spirit of sacrifice.*

 

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