So, I’m about halfway through He Leadeth Me, written by Fr. Walter Ciszek, a priest who spent 23 years in Soviet prisons and Siberian labor camps. Of those 23 years, about 5 were spent in solitary confinement which Ciszek describes as a school of prayer in many ways.
I wanted to share some of his thoughts on prayer…
“Words do not make a prayer, even the words of the Our Father taught to us by our Lord himself, or the words of any familiar prayer made easy by constant repetition. There is no formula that works of itself, no magic charm that must be automatically be heard by God and produce its effect. Prayer, true prayer, is a communication – and it occurs only when two people, two minds, are truly present to each other in some way.”
“Real prayer occurs, as I have said, when at last we find ourselves in the presence of God. Then every thought becomes the father to a prayer, and words quite often are superfluous. Thoughts of praise and of thanksgiving spontaneously arise, as well as questions and petitions and thoughts of friends and their needs, mingled with trusting confessions of failure and simple promises to follow in the future only what he would have us do.”
So often in prayer, we find ourselves trying to say the right thing – that perfect combination of words. Or, we run through the usual list of requests that has become our prayer routine.
But as Fr. Ciszek and many spiritual masters note – we must first and foremost learn to place ourselves in the presence of God. We must learn to be alone with the Father, to calm our restless minds and settle ourselves.
Only when we realize God’s presence can our souls truly enter into prayer – and then praise, thanksgiving, penance pour out of us, (what other response is there in the presence of our loving Father!)
But again, it starts with placing ourselves in the presence of God. And, that requires effort on our part, and perseverance.
Be the Men,