Sunday, July 1, 2007

Facing Life's Challenges With Prayer

Do many of us understand the difference between a challenge and an inconvenience? Dealing with a life changing illness is a challenge, dealing with a headache is an inconvenience. Running out of gas in our cars is an inconvenience, having no feet to walk with is a challenge. How much of our conversation is sprinkled with a lively joy or how much of our conversation is a torrential downpour of whining and grizzling about our 'lot in life'? Do we live in Iran, the Sudan, China? Where every day is a challenge for Christians as they face persecution within their own Dictatorial countries, where every whisper could lead to betrayal and death, do we face life threatening peril in our countries?

Is it a case that for many of us, we have become comfortable Christians, who no longer preach what we believe, at times many of us fail to live it within our own lives let alone preach the Good News to all we meet. What face do we present to the outside world the face of Christ or a face of woe? Why would anyone want to become a Christian if it means toil, hardship and general unhappiness? We need to remember that to many we are the face of Christ, if we look miserable, then where have we placed our hope? As that great Saint Francis of Assisi wrote, "It is not fitting, when one is in God's service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look." We need to understand what abides in our interior will become known in our exterior, and it is our exterior that sends a message to all we meet. Once again St Francis cautions us, "Preach the gospel and if necessary use words."

We become longfaced when we misunderstand God's Commandments and why Jesus died for us. Our Lord did not suffer and die on a Cross so we can live comfortable lives with no cost to ourselves, one cannot buy Christianity on the cheap! If it cost Jesus then it will cost us as our Lord warns us, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." Yet when crosses do come into our lives we either blame Satan as if God was powerless or we become disconsolate and discouraged, how can we be so easily moved by our emotions?

It is because we run more on emotions than Faith, when good things happen to us we rejoice usually by praising our achievements and accepting the applause as if we had merited it on our own. Yet conversely when things go wrong we either attribute every negative happening to Satan or we say 'God does not hear my prayer' behind that line is the 'unspoken meaning what is happening to me is God's fault!' How little we know God or His Divine Will. Most of the hardship that affects each of us are inconveniences which we blow up out of all proportion. There are times though when we are suffering greatly but irrespective of our inconveniences or depthful suffering we still need to understand that when we enter that dark night of suffering so too God enters with us, we are never left orphans.

When our hearts become full of complaints and our focus shifts entirely on our own woes many fall prey to bitterness, which like a scorching whilwind will leave our souls perishing and gasping for air. We need to understand that beneath this griping is a feeling of resentment towards God. We need to acknowledge that anger before we can confront it and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we then seek God out in the quiet of our hearts. This is where the heart of the problem lay when we are too busy for prayer, we cannot handle the spiritual, physical or mental challenges that face us each day. Instead we become overcome rather than be what we are through the healing power of Gods Grace, Overcomers.

Before we head out our doors we make sure that we have had breakfast, then comes lunch and finally at the end of the day we enjoy dinner. We learn to take care of our bodies which gives us the energy to do our work, yet when it comes to our spiritual lives, we can't seem to find the time for prayer.

Prayer is a choice and refusal to pray is also a choice. When we choose to pray God is then able to fill us with His strength and the Graces needed to overcome our problems and maintain our hope in our loving God through prayer and the Sacraments. On the other hand when we choose not to pray we are left to rely on our own resources, hence we fail and become despondent.

Prayer is our lifeblood, when we refuse to pray we then become spiritually anemic, it is no wonder that so many cannot deal with life's setbacks.

If life is becoming burdensome and no longer joyful then who moved?