Catholic Pop Quiz! Who said the following?
"Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love — the word — it brings nothing. I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul."
Shockingly, Saint Teresa of Calcutta - the modern icon of self-sacrifice and devotion to Jesus and the poor – lived in a state of spiritual darkness for more than 50 years and shared these tortuous thoughts with her spiritual director in 1957.
Why did Mother Teresa persist in her many hours of scheduled daily prayer when she felt complete emptiness and isolation? For the same reasons that you and I should make prayer the anchor of our days and of our lives.
"The rosary is a sort of machine gun and atomic bomb; namely, a weapon far superior to all the weapons of modern warfare in overcoming the enemy of God." – Servant of God Joseph Kentenich
1. It's Weaponized
Satan loathes nothing more than prayer. Prayer unites us to the Father; the Devil separates us from the Father. When we pass time with God, we are actively avoiding evil. Prayer strengthens us in our daily battles against the Devil and temptation.
Our lives are one enormous spiritual war, and prayer gets us battle-ready. Through prayer, we summon the Lord to our aid and prepare ourselves to overcome the onslaught of enticement the Devil reigns down on us at every turn.
"… for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses" (2 Corinthians 10:4).
2. It's About Relationship
When you are cementing a friendship or falling in love, investing time in the relationship is the only way to get it off the ground. The same applies to getting to know God. Why would we want to spend eternity with Someone we ignored during our entire earthly lives?
"For prayer is nothing more than being on terms of friendship with God." – Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Fr. Mike Schmitz, a dynamic, down-to-earth college chaplain with an online following through Ascension Press, shared a perfect illustration of why time with God matters. He recounted a time when his father was building a backyard shed. Instead of simply building it himself (which would undoubtedly have been easier and more efficient), he invited his six children to help him.
This time together allowed the children to see how their beloved dad labored, allowed Dad to see his children learn and work together, and gave dad and kids the opportunity to create something meaningful together.
This example of a human father warmly inviting his children to spend time with him reminds us of our Heavenly Father always seeking and beckoning His children to spend time with Him.
3. It Increases Humility
One simple meditation to ground one's ego, shared once by a wise confessor, is:
"God is God, and I am not."
Coming to God and kneeling at His feet brings us to a place of humility. Prayer reminds us of the Creator: creature relationship. We, as the creatures, can approach our Creator with everything. Praise, thanksgiving, needs, intercession on behalf of others.
When we consciously pause throughout the day to recognize that we are completely dependent on God for every heartbeat, each breath, the lives of our children, the food and clean water, out of His Divine Providence, the natural reaction is one of humble gratitude.
When we are the center of our own universes, our own self-importance explodes to grandiose proportions - and quickly! Prayer brings back balance.
"Prayer, humility, and charity toward all are essential in the Christian life: they are the way to holiness." – Pope Francis
4. It Improves Focus
Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Instagram. Texts. E-mails.
We live with unrelenting distraction which bombards our ears, eyes, brains 24-7.
If we allow it.
"Fasting detaches you from this world. Prayer reattaches you to the next world." -Venerable Fulton Sheen
The Deceiver loves nothing more than our frenetic pace, perpetual distraction, and dopamine highs because they relegate prayer to the bottom of the barrel. We need silence to hear God's voice speaking in our hearts, and we require quietness to wholeheartedly funnel our thoughts toward the Lord. Remember Mother Teresa's simple summation of the domino effect of silence:
"The fruit of Silence is prayer.
The fruit of Prayer is faith.
The fruit of Faith is love.
The fruit of Love is service.
The fruit of Service is peace."
How do we attain that first step, silence, in a world that won't stop talking? Carve it out and create it. Find a time of day which is most conducive to a tiny retreat into peace and block out all electronics and distractions.
At first, it may seem disconcerting. You may feel fidgety, as though you should be doing something or looking at something. But as you build the habit, you will find yourself craving that time alone with God. A vital component of any conversation is silence. If we jabber throughout prayer, when does He have a chance to get a word in edgewise?
Be a good conversationalist and allow the Lord time and space to reply. Our Lord Himself instructs us,
"…when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret" (Matthew 6:6)
"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words" (Matthew 6:7)
Robert Cardinal Sarah's compelling new book, The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, will alert you to the internal and external noise in your life and will motivate you to gain control over your focus and your priorities.
Simply put, Jesus didn't recommend that we pray.
He didn't suggest that we pray.
He clearly instructed us to pray and even helpfully provided us the perfect prayer, the Our Father. Not only did Jesus tell us how to pray, He modeled it by living constantly in deep communication with The Father. You can take the first step to a powerful prayer life with the "Jesus prayer":
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
We think these items below are strong influences in strengthening your prayer habits.
How to Pray the Rosary Pamphlet
Pray For Me Laminated Prayer Cards
Dark Cherry Wood Standing Crucifix
Men's St. Benedict Black Wood Rosary