Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,
This Sunday’s first reading and gospel focus on prayer. Prayer is an ever important theme, because it is the lifeblood of each one of us. We traditionally speak of four types of prayer:
1. Adoration/blessing: We pray as an expression of worship and praising God. The Church’s prayer of the Gloria is an excellent example of this: “We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we give you thanks.” Human beings are essentially creatures of worship. Quite simply, we worship God because he is God—all holy, infinite in love, power and majesty. It is a beautiful gift of grace when we find ourselves forgetful of self and in praise of God. Eucharistic adoration and the Mass are perfect opportunities to worship God.
2. Petition/Contrition: We pray because we need God to provide for us. We are not self-made or self-reliant creatures, but are radically dependent upon God. Someone shared a touching story with me the other day. Their child’s sixth birthday party was in a park, and it was threatening to rain. The mom told her anxious child to pray that it wouldn’t rain. He went away by himself behind a tree. When he returned, she noticed that he had some dirt on his head, and she realized that he had been face down in prayer. The threat of rain passed over. The truth is that God cares about all the desires of our heart, even when it’s just as simple as not wanting it to rain.
3. Intercession: We pray for others, because God wants us to realize our interdependence. Holiness is not a project we set about on our own. We depend upon the prayers and intercession of others for strength, guidance, healing and spiritual growth. Scripture speaks innumerable times about the urgency of our praying for one another. The Confiteor at the beginning of Mass is a perfect reminder of this: “I ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to Almighty God.” We need each other’s prayers!
4. Thanksgiving: Gratitude is a sure sign of spiritual health. Our freedom from sin and death, our new life in Christ, and all of the blessings we experience in daily life are due to God’s grace. The more we realize this, the more humble and thankful we become. A prayer of thanksgiving should be a non-negotiable element of our daily prayer.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
“Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all. This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life in the Deuteronomic and prophetic traditions insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart. ‘We must remember God more often than we draw breath.’ But we cannot pray ‘at all times’ if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it”. (2697).
Use these days of summer to renew your own prayer life, especially by setting aside specific times each day in which to practice the various forms of prayer.