“Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven.” - St. Ephraem of Syria: (306 – 373: was a Syria Christian deacon and theologian of the 4th century.)
Gospel Text: (MK 3:7-12)
Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd,
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him
and shout, "You are the Son of God."
He warned them sternly not to make him known.
Why do we pray? What motivates us to pray? When do we pray? These are questions that come to mind as I reflect upon this Gospel passage. I think prayers of petition, prayers for favors needed are probably on the top of everyone’s list of why we pray.
Such things as illnesses, tragedies, injuries, injustices, disasters, to name a few realities that drive us to prayer, make us feel helpless and powerless. We become aware that our personal efforts are not enough to overcome these overpowering happenings. We recognize that there is a Power greater than ourselves that is needed to lift us out of danger, to save us from the grip of sickness, to save us from the sufferings of this life. Prayer to a God who saves, a God who heals, a God who loves us is a very proper response to life’s troubles.
It is when we begin to understand that prayer is basically a deepening of our relationship with God, a loving God, a friendly God that we gain insight into prayer. St. Theresa of Avila says that prayer is a friendly conversation with God. When we realize that, we begin to pray differently. We begin to pray like Jesus prayed, who said, “Not my Will by Thine be Done!” That is the kind of prayer that we are all called to make.