Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When the Praying Gets Tough, Who Keeps Praying?

Everything is a gift from God: our intellect, personality, body, faculties, strengths, even weaknesses, our faith, our situation in life, the grace we need to do any good thing—all were given to us by our Creator. Anything we try to give to Him we find, really, we are only giving back to Him what was His to begin with. The only thing that is truly ours, in a sense, is our free will, even though He gave us that too; the only thing we can give back to Him is the use of that will.
     Love is not merely a feeling, but an act of the will. So, what we can give back to Him with our free will is our love, ourselves.  This is why He gave us free will, so we could love Him freely, by our own choice. 
     And love is a lot more than lip service; Teresa of Avila said: “Love is proved by deeds.” It’s in the day-in, day-out choices that we make and what we do when no one is looking that we prove that our love for God is real.
     Love is also proved by what we do when things get tough. It’s easy to love someone when things go well for you when you’re with that person; it’s easy to be a sponge, a fair-weather friend. Satan wasn’t impressed with Job. He told God, Take away all the gifts you’ve given him, and his “love” for you will evaporate. He only loves you because of your gifts to him. All the trials and crosses that come to us in life are chances to show that our love for the Lord is real. True love is shown by fidelity through the difficult times.
     Thus, the best way to express our love for God is by spending time with Him—in other words, by praying, conversing with Him. And our love is especially expressed in those prayer times that are difficult. Sometimes the best we can do is show up for prayer and try and try to pray. We won’t know ‘til heaven, just how pleased He was with our efforts. 
     Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta experienced over 40 years of dry prayer, yet she persevered, rising early each morning to begin her day with an hour of adoration. And how richly God blessed her for it! She may not have felt anything during those prayer times, but He was surely working in her, for her life is a witness to His filling her with the abundant graces she needed to do what she did and the heavenly insights to lead her order. 
     A saint (I forget who) once said that those prayer times in which we feel warm and close to God are His gifts to us. But those prayer times that are dry and in which we’re distracted and discouraged but persistent are our gift to Him.

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