Remember Luke 9:18 (NAB): "Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" For the sake of this Reflection, I'd just like to talk a little about Jesus' habit of praying in solitude... This form of prayer, solitary prayer, is also borne out in Mt 6:6 (go to your inner room ... to pray). Prayer is often a community activity (as in Church), but Our Lord likes us to pray to Him on a "one-to-one" basis. We know that from the contemplative or meditative prayer forms, and although many do not have that gift, one can get into the habit of praying to and with Jesus to the Father. When Jesus prayed to the Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed to the Father personally from the Soul.
In previous reflections (many) I've mentioned praying in silence to Jesus, praying from one's inner room, from the heart and soul, just with Jesus. This is very private prayer and also very effective prayer, that is, if we do our best not to get distracted too much. We all get distracted, so let's not get aggrivated when distraction comes, but on the other hand, minimize distraction by not giving in to them. What I mean here is that when a distraction occurs, we do not give any energy to it, we just let it go by, and don't pay any heed to it. So we never really lose track of our original thoughts and prayers.
If you are someone who is intensely curious, as I used to be at one time, 'not paying attention to distractions' is difficult, but really it is a matter of self-discipline. Any interruption allowed to break into prayer or meditation is a flare-up (if you will) of one or more of the senses (smell, hearing, touch, etc.), and those who have interruption under control do not allow their senses to interrupt prayer. Why? Because prayer is talking to God, and that is more important!
Even though we do not realize it, perhaps, we talk to God a lot. Much of the time, some people take His Name in vain, and of course that's pretty bad even though they might not be aware of it. Certain negative words have become part of the language, but that does not mean they should be continued. Try to curb foul language, it doesn't impress anyone, least of all the Lord! (In other words, if you cuss all day it really is none of my business, but God doesn't like it because He is a gentleman. Cuss words are simply not complimentary. They sting! If I am standing next to someone whose every third word is an expletive, I move away - it downright bothers me. Maybe the only reason I don't say anything is that I value my life, but we really should say something.
I have prayed with people in jails, and when I invite them to say the prayer, no matter how rough these guys think they are, they control the curse words in their prayers and for that they deserve an A plus! Praise God!
Jesus is a terrific intercessor ... to the Father, through the Holy Spirit! I habitually pray through the Holy Spirit, asking Him (one of the three persons of the Holy Trinity) to make my (personal) prayer worthy to reach Jesus, and for Him to intercede with the Father 'from whom all Blessings flow'. Sometimes I'll ask saints to intercede, particularly patron saints, and of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary is a strong intercessor. I don't know through which channels prayers reach the Lord, but He answers prayers, and we know that happens because people get well. People are healed. Pain disappears. Folks get jobs they are praying for, and a whole score of other things. The Lord doesn't always give us exactly what we are praying for but most of the time if we pray for something we really need, it will come our way. Personal prayer from "our innermost soul" is a strong way to find comfort and love from Jesus, from the Father. So go to Him, and really, really have a conversation with Him. He talks to us, usually not in words but in our thoughts. One of the best prayers (contemplative) are prayers we aren't even aware of ... prayers that do not involve the senses, but prayers nonetheless that leave a deep feeling of peace and joy for no specific reason. Let's get closer to Him. Without God/Jesus, in your life, in our life, life is dull and meaningless. Make life an adventure and a relationship with God. The only way to love Jesus to the max is by not sinning! Hey, don't tell me it can't be done, it can - when and if you try! And God will help you - He wants us to succeed in loving Him, forever - that's what His death for us on the Cross was all about!
Peace and all Good!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
May 17, 2011