There is one thing that is often overlooked in our everyday life, which is prayer. We often treat it as the last alternative instead of the first and important option, the one that gives us the strength to face life as it is. Even when we pray, it is very easy for us to only think of the things that we would like to deal with or only focusing on those that are problematic to us. It is also very easy for us to treat it as something self-centered and about us or our needs. Yet, we are called to pray at all times, especially interceding and lifting up those who are in need and those whom we are for! In praying for others, our hearts are stretched to include and to care for people as God has cared for and embraced us in His love. We cannot say that we believe without turning ourselves to prayers. We cannot say that we know and walk with God without lifting up our hearts and praying about things and people that are important in our faith journey.
How often should we pray? Any time! We can always lift our hearts up to God, knowing that He listens to our prayers when made in humble and genuine supplication. He is only but a prayer away, near to everyone whose prayers are sincere. (cf. Psalm 145:18) There is always an invitation for prayers, not only when there is something important, perhaps even a bother, what makes us worry or touches our heart. Sometimes prayers come in the form of honesty as well. We are praying not just with the present problems, but also looking back at the ones that hurt us in the past. In prayers, we can come to the Lord with all honesty, genuineness, and transparency, laying down our pretenses and standing in front of Him as we are, offering up to Him our long-standing struggles and deep-seated problems that perhaps no one else knows about. It is beautiful when we are able to stand before the Lord of the universe, knowing that He listens (and really wants to listen).
Prayers are love put into words (love of God and of the people who we are interceding for), coming from the heart. While prayers can be labeled as opportunities to “waste time with God,” they are intimate invitations to spend quality time with the One who loves us the most. It takes a listening heart to truly be silent and bask in His goodness. As a matter of fact, the Lord Jesus Christ taught us how to pray numerous times. He spent a lot of time in prayers, always retreating to spend time with His Heavenly Father when time permits from ministry. Therefore, I can firmly say that we are called to do the same as His believers and disciples. The Savior taught us that we can always come to prayer any time as we are, in all of our brokenness, hurts, in all of our honesty and transparency, standing before our loving Father, like Christ, to speak from the heart through the power and working of the Holy Spirit.
Prayers speak of a personal and intimate relationship with the One whom we love and put our trust, not just in how or what can be said. When we pray, we lay down all that we have — all of our burdens and blessings — to Him who knows and listens to our hearts. That gratitude in knowing that God listens gives us strengths to bear and overcome life’s ups and downs. While it is easy to say that our lives are too overburdened with many things and that we are too busy to pray, we lose strength when we stop to focus on what gives us life. Prayer is the only real antidote to this world’s doubts and lies that steal away our joy and hope. Anxious moments, sleepless nights, restless times are all but invitations to lift our hearts up to what is in front of us. In prayer, our heart is invited to see what our mind cannot understand or find hard to believe at the moment.
In the noisiness of this world that could easily agitate our hearts, prayers still our spiritual senses so we can recognize the presence of God who is waiting for us. When we put ourselves in His presence, we are reminded that He knows our hearts. Even when we cannot verbalize or put into words what hurts us, moves us, or captivates us, God knows and we can have the confidence to come to Him. Prayers strengthen our soul and expand our hearts to receive God’s will beyond what we can humanly understand, comprehend, or think that we can receive in our limited calculations.
Furthermore, we understand friendship and love not simply as matters based on human or like-minded connections, we also believe that they are strengthened by prayers as well. Those who can pray for each other and with each other love one another in a very intimate and powerful way that other natural alternatives will fall short. Look at how our society operates! Nothing from it could ever provide us the true understanding of who we are nor promise us true happiness. Many times, they tend to cause more frustration, resentment, jealousy, envy, and doubts in God’s goodness as we compare ourselves with others. Nevertheless, there is so much more to this life than what meets the eye or can be comprehended in the present moment, and prayers remind of that precisely as we lift our hearts up to the Lord of creation. Trusting in His providential love, we can be glad that He listens when we ask, receives us when we knock, and even cares for us beyond measures when He does not immediately grant us what we ask for. In prayers, we stand in His presence as children who trust that our Heavenly Father cares and gives us what is truly good for us — not just now, but for eternally.
We have to recognize first that when we truly pray and intercede for someone, we are the ones who are first changed and transformed as we learn to trust and care for someone worth caring. When we pray for someone, we are invited and given a chance to become a part of God’s providential care for the person. Even if we are apart by distance, we are closer to one another when we remember each other in our prayers. This is a real, personal, and intimate understanding of communion of saints! Prayer is a personal and intentional desire to lift the other person up in our mind and our heart of heart. This includes our prayers for those who are hard to love as well. The first step to loving someone, even our enemies, is to begin to pray for them. Perhaps forgiveness begins in small — but firm — steps and decisions to pray and lift up those who had hurt us, praying for the salvation of their souls and conversion of their hearts to God (as we pray for our own conversion as well). Our conversations with God strengthens our will as it moves our hearts, guides our words and actions to build a better world and society through the gift of ourselves in faith. It is a wonderful way to remind ourselves that it is not just about us, but in everything that we do, we give thank, lift up, and choose to love each and every day. When we pray for one another, we pray and lift each other up so that our spiritual senses are opened and in tune to God’s presence as to receive and to live out what He willed for us in our own particular vocations.
The saints were able to be at peace because they took everything to prayer and chose to pray at all times. Their lives were not easy or their journeys filled with rose petals, yet they never lost hope because they knew the One they loved and believed. They prayed and understood life and its trials from God’s own perspective. They trusted that God met their needs and gave them strength in sufferings. They believe, through prayers, that His kingdom comes and is present in their midst. We become who we truly are called to be when we pray well, speaking to the Lord from the heart and listening to Him with love. We till the soil of our soul so that it can be enriched with God’s grace. Therefore, when we feel discouraged, too worried, or preoccupied with things, we have to remember that we often are the biggest obstacles to ourselves and its needed relationship with the Lord. We can pray at every moment, any time, because it is our spiritual lifeline and connection with the Creator who formed us and willed us to be nourished by His infinite and everlasting love.
We are called to pray about everything and offer to Him the matters that are significant for us and not let ourselves be too occupied with them. (cf. Philippians 4:6) We have to trust Him that He listens and hears our prayers with childlike faith. Once we have prayed and offered our burdens to the Lord, we have to slowly let go so He can intervene and guide us with divine providence. Things might not always go in ways that we expected, but we know our everliving God wants the best for us and everyone — eternally. When we pray, we still ourselves, offer our hearts and give ourselves time to be strengthened in hope. As we put our trust and hope in God, we are able to slowly sift through things in order to understand what is important and worthwhile, as well as giving enough time for insignificant or disturbing matters to fall away. We are called to give time instead of rushing through prayers so we allow ourselves to be in His presence and to receive what He has to say in His own time. When we allow and give God time, we open the soil of our hearts so He can nourish and brings to bloom the seeds of faith, strengthened by prayers.
Unlike God, Satan tries to agitate us, fills us with doubts and despairs, or rushes us into making rash decisions. That is why we need to allow ourselves time to calm down, sift through the sentiments, truly pray about our decisions and the situations in our lives. The ability to pray in the hurt, trials, hard situations, and for hard-to-love people are of God’s grace. His love strengthens our willingness to love even in the midst of the temptations to walk away, give up, or do whatever is best in our own calculative way. Prayers are the beginning of the missing peace that this world and the evil ones try to steal and hide from us. Therefore, prayers are the heartfelt gift to give to others and grace-filled privilege to partake and walk with the Lord. What can we give to one another? The gift of prayer, of course. Therefore, let us not be afraid to pray, especially to pray for others. Even when things do not go right, we can all choose to bless and be blessings by praying for those who are around us and that His will be done.