Friday, September 27, 2013

7QT (Vol.57): Effective Intercessory Prayer

With thanks to Fr. Peter Adu Boahen Nkansah for sharing this with me.

There are times in life that I've struggled in my prayer life. I continue to go through the motions, believing that the desire to please God does in fact please him (see Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton), but I am praying from a distance. I question the effectiveness of my intercessory prayer as I am distracted, full of doubt, and simultaneously prideful. If I cannot fully enter into dialogue with God, the fault is my own that I don't hear His answers. What can be done to open myself to effective prayer?

Meditate Good things take time. There is undoubtedly value in short prayers throughout the day, but those are only part of a complete prayer life. Setting aside time to simply be in the presence of God is a necessary component of effective prayer. Ideally, this would involve regular Eucharistic Adoration, but even carving out 30+ minutes each day brings one to a place to hear what God speaks.

Read Scripture "All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). Reading, reflecting on, and internalizing Scripture familiarizes us with God's Word. Through this Word, all that exists was created. It is this Word that became flesh, bearing our weakness. To recognize and follow God's voice in prayer, we must know his Word.

Fortify yourself Prayer is our weapon against the enemy. We must not enter battle carelessly, but rather put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17). Equip yourself with truth, righteousness, and the gospel of peace. One cannot effectively intercede for others while being spiritually vulnerable. Do what is necessary to strengthen your shield of faith that you may protect yourself and others.

Do no harm Sin distances us from God. Powerful prayer comes from a heart humbled and seeking first the kingdom of God. To pray effectively, be reconciled to others (Mt. 5:23-24, Rom. 12:18) then go and sin no more. To pray for some while injuring others is an ineffective way to build up the body of Christ.

Fast If the previous four are in order, we can approach the discipline of fasting. Fasting without a solid prayer life becomes haphazard, an exercise in physical perseverance, or a vain display of piety. To fast, have a plan. Perhaps 6AM to noon, praying every hour. Or 6AM to 6PM, praying at the conclusion of the fast. If possible, fast, pray, and break the fast in community - not to prove how religious you are, but to gather in the name of Jesus, to assemble the army of saints militant. The spiritual emptying through fasting and the celebration of breaking bread find meaning in community.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. 
St. Alphonsus Ligouri, patron of vocations, pray for us.
All you holy men and women, pray for us.

7 Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary

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