In one of the prefaces of the Eucharistic prayer during Mass, we read: “For although you have no need of our praise, yet our thanksgiving is itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness but profit us for salvation.” These words address the reality and sometimes the challenge in building a viable prayer life.
To begin to build a life of prayer, one needs to appreciate that the desire and the effort to pray is itself a gift from God. St. Clare of Assisi once said that the desire to pray was in itself a prayer! It is important to remember this when we find it difficult to pray. Sometimes our lives are cluttered with all sorts of things that make it difficult to pray, especially when we are feeling anxious or fearful. When we are ill or suffering bodily pain, it is difficult to focus ourselves on anything but the anxiety and pain. However, we need not fear if that is the case because just wanting to pray is itself a gift.
As we listen to Hezekiah pray today, we might get the mistaken impression that God favors him with a longer life because he prayed. However, prayer is its own reward. Our prayer, even our intercessory prayer, should focus on God’s goodness, not upon our own. Hezekiah was not heard because he was a good man and a good king. To assert this would be to say that Hezekiah was the focus of the prayer. Not so. God is always the focus of our prayer.
Our earthly life is a mixture of good and bad, celebration and trial, joy and pain. In the midst of all this, our eyes and hopes are fixed on the promises that God has made in the Scriptures. We persevere in prayer and open our hearts to God, embracing with faith the challenges and joys of this life.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator