Prayer is the bulwark against the assaults of afflictions, the suppression and extinction of war, eternal action …
We sometimes wonder why our life never changes … why we continue to struggle chronically with the same old sins … why on the horizon appears no glimmer of personal growth or improvement. All of those desirables are the fruit of prayer.
Recall the Gospel episode where Jesus casts out an unclean spirit (Mk 9:28-29). The frustrated disciples ask him, “Why could we not drive it out?” Jesus replies, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
Prayer puts us in touch with the way things actually are. Prayer reverses sterility. “Our being is not constructed from beginning on the outside like a clay model,” wrote Dominican Fr. Antonin Sertillanges. “It develops from within, as a tree grows and blossoms with the rising of the sap. In us, the sap is the Spirit of Christ. Prayer stimulates its rise.”
St. John Climacus (+649) speaks from the depth of his soul when he tells us:
Prayer is the conservation of the world, our reconciliation with God, the mother of tears, the propitiation of sins, the bridge over temptations, the bulwark against the assaults of afflictions, the suppression and extinction of war, eternal action, the source of virtues, the procurer of divine graces, spiritual progress, the food of the soul, the illumination of the mind, freedom from despair, the demonstration of hope, the consolation of sorrow, the decreasing of anger, the mirror of religious progress, the index of our stature, the declaration of our condition, the sign of things to come, an indication of future glory.
St. Thomas Aquinas—towering theologian, teacher, and churchman—was first and foremost a man of prayer. The fruitfulness he craved in life came from its grace. He prayed:
Grant to me, O Lord God, a vigilant heart, that no subtle speculation may ever lead me from you; a nobleness, that no unworthy affection may draw me from you; a rectitude, that no evil purpose may turn me from you. Grant me a steadfastness which no tribulation may shatter, a freedom that no violent affection may overthrow. Give me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, diligence to see you, wisdom to find you.
Follow Fr. Cameron’s series on prayer here.
See some of the earlier pieces below: