Marching Forward in Prayer

Our Nation depends on its men being workers, fighters, householders and intellectuals.  In all cases they must strive for sanctity if the Nation will bear the blessing of God.  Prayer is the path towards sanctity.  Simultaneous with our struggle towards personal holiness we must recognize our depravity.  We, our families, our companions and allies are frail.  We must pray for each other and be quick to forgive the penitent.  “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8)

In the spirit of catholicity, here are elements of three catechisms which can direct our minds to the purpose and means of prayer.

Book of Common Prayer 1979, An Outline of the Faith

Q: What is prayer?

A: Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.

Q: What are the principal kinds of prayer?

A: The principal kinds of prayer are adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation,  intercession and petition.

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 116

Q: Why is prayer necessary for Christians?

A: Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness which God requires of us.    Moreover, God will give his grace and the Holy Spirit only to those who constantly and with heartfelt longing ask him for these gifts.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2685:

The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. Based on the sacrament of marriage, the family is the “domestic church” where God’s children learn to pray “as the Church” and to persevere in prayer. For young children in particular, daily family prayer is the first witness of the Church’s living memory as awakened patiently by the Holy Spirit.

Three main pillars of the life of prayer are the Psalms, the Lord’s Prayer, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  The Psalms are the voice of the Church, filled with praise and thanksgiving, remorse and anguish, and the Spirit-lead anger towards all things contrary to the Good.  The prayer given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ gives us an encompassing petition for all that we need as creatures: sustenance, forgiveness, freedom from temptation, and a new heart oriented towards the Kingdom.  The Lord’s Supper traditionally celebrated reenacts the whole drama of the Christian journey.  First we hear the words of Holy Scripture read, which planted the original seeds of Faith in our souls.  Gathered with brethren we confess our universal Faith and offer prayers for the whole world.  We then confess our sins and hear our pardon uttered.   We offer our meek gifts, our time and service, and our finite lives to God, and He in turn offers to us the precious blood of His only begotten Son.  It is the pilgrim’s journey from darkness to Light relived every Lord’s Day.

In the laboratory of prayer, our passions are inspected and we are urged to bring them within due bounds; our rough spots are brought to light and we are hewn to fit our Creator’s plans.  I exhort all who read this to take up the life of prayer.  In order that we follow St Paul’s command to pray at all times we must first pray at particular times (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2697).  So what can one do?

  • Commit to a short prayer rule. The right rule for you is whatever rule you will keep. If you are just getting started, saying the Lord’s Prayer upon waking and before retiring will get your heart operating.  If you are focused and driven, you might pray the Hours.
  • Pray the Great Litany from the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer is extensive, touching on all aspects of the world.
  • Pray before meals. Show your dining companions true gratitude for the food set before you, and use the time as an opportunity to offer up prayers for anything else needful.  In my own house we start the mealtime prayer with “Bless us O Lord and these Thy gifts which of Thy bounty we are about to receive” followed by extemporaneous thanksgiving and petition for things resting on our hearts.
  • Pray with your families. I refer to you the paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church above.  The broader church is composed first of domestic churches, and these are led by devoted men – singly or as the head of their house.  The Book of Common Prayer 1979 includes ‘Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families’ that could lay a framework for formal prayer within your house.

Resources for prayer are bountiful but the most needed thing is mutual encouragement from each other.  Brothers, we must pray.

That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived,

We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

-By Adam Smith

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