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Prayer for common benefit

Prayer is like breathing. Without breathing, we cannot live ... Prayer is communion with God; we become more like God, more loving, wise, powerful, kind and good. We are cleansed of the accumulated impurities ...

Prayer is not only asking God for things ... the relationship is valuable in itself, as in all true love. Does not God know what we need, even before we ask him? Why does He want us to ask? God wants that our will should not incline towards negative desires, but desire the good with deep yearning. God said: ‘Let there be light’, and there was light ... What God willed became reality. We must also acquire the capacity to will the good, and it will happen as we desire. When we are delivered from selfishness, pride, and negative desires, our prayers will become more like the creative Word of God. By prayer we do change reality ... But this power is not available to us until we become more godlike. That is why the prayers of saints are more effective than our own.

In unselfish prayer, the first focus is God – His name, His kingdom, His will. The second focus is other people. Only in the third place should we ask things for ourselves.

Prayer can achieve ‘miracles’ of healing and transformation that cannot be explained by medical science. Prayer is also subject to certain laws. In prayer, we are never alone. In group prayer, we commemorate all those who are members of the Body of Christ. This is why we commemorate the prophets, apostles, the blessed Virgin Mary, martyrs, saints, great teachers and all the faithful, departed and living.

Prayer has to be learned. It is like swimming. When you are first thrown into the water, you may sink. By repeated practice, one acquires the skills of remaining afloat. Some people are more skillful swimmers because they have learned the rules and acquired the skills by constant practice.

The first rule in prayer as in swimming is not to give up just because you do not succeed in the first three or four attempts. Prayer is a spiritual skill to be acquired by constant practice. The second rule, is to ‘let go’, to let the water support you, to not be anxious, but relaxed. Relax, trust in God to support you and teach you how to pray. The third rule is to keep up the practice, even if you do not enjoy it. It will take years before you get the habit of prayer and really begin to enjoy it.

The fourth rule is to develop the discipline of prayer through fasting and self-control. Fifthly, use your whole body in the service of prayer. The body can participate in prayer through posture, speech, and acts. Sixth, keep the balance between group prayer and personal prayer. It is important for us to come in the presence of God regularly as a community to get rid of our selfishness and pride, and grow. Seventhly, prayer needs to be nourished by reading scriptures and meditating every day. Systematic reading of the scriptures will be found helpful as life advances.

Prayer can never be isolated from continuous, active compassionate love for your fellowmen.

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