I was taught in catechism that prayer is the raising of our hearts and minds to God in silence or in words. How true those words were. My prayer life has been a journey of continuous beginnings.
As a child I hardly prayed. In my First Holy Communion class, my instructor, Mr. Henry, encouraged his catechumens to join a society in the church. I later joined the Block Rosary Crusade. I can say that my spiritual journey started there. From my teenage years into adulthood, I tried to pray every day especially in the morning and night. But I had my occasional bouts of falling in and out of sleep when I prayed at such times – when I was not fully awake in the morning and when I was very tired in the night. I understood how important it was to communicate with God in prayer and that prompted me to make effort to be disciplined while praying. I learnt I still had a long way to go with respect to prayer for when I was fully awake praying, my mind was just not able to remain still throughout the duration of the prayer let alone meditate. Confession – that is still a challenge.
Prayer can be said at any time or any place but the place and time are not as important as the interior disposition. Through my prayer experience, I have realized some of its benefits which include:
- Strengthened faith: We all have our downs in life journey and I surely do. Most of my sincerest prayers are made at my low points. I come out of such a prayer with renewed faith and hope. I feel God heard that prayer that came from my heart and that I am not alone in life. I come out of prayer knowing that God is with me and that even if a mother can forget the infant she nurses, God cannot forget me.
- Setting the mind on heavenly things: St. Paul instructs us, “Think of what is above, not what is on earth.” The easiest way I do that is by prayer. The hustle and bustle of life can really keep our minds on the things of this world forgetting our heavenly home. Heaven and its host can be forgotten until the consequences of an evil act. Through prayer the heavenly prize becomes present in our minds and the earth is seen as the journey it is.
- Brings one closer to God: Every relationship requires communication to grow. It is the same for relationship with God. Prayer time is time spent with God distinct from time spent in the church. When you form the habit of raising your heart to God, you find that you are able to reflect God in various parts of your life.
- Prevents Selfishness: We tend to be selfish as humans. When selfishness is not checked, we do a lot of harm to humanity. But we become selfless when we go to prayer and ask God for other people’s needs. If all you do in your prayer is to always pray for yourself, then maybe you do not see yourself clearly.
The value of prayer should encourage us to schedule out time for prayer. If you have no time for prayer then it is the more reason you have to pray so that God may direct you to keep your head straight.