PRAYER: Food for Soul
By Fr. Vartan Joulfayan

Prayer has a great power. The Apostles of Christ who carried nothing with them and owned nothing, they prayed over the sick and through miracles believers were healed.  When St. Paul and Silas were in prison at Philippi, they prayed and sang hymns to God, “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one’s fetters were unfastened” (Acts 16: 25-27).
If we become weak in our faith and doubt that prayer can truly help us connect with our God and receive His mercy, then we ought to read the gospel accounts to regain spiritual strength.  Jesus told the parable of the Unjust Judge, “who neither feared God nor regarded man;” and there was a poor widow who kept coming to this judge asking him to vindicate her against her adversary, and the judge continuously refused her request.  Then, the judge decided to vindicate her, only so that she may not wear him out by her continual coming.  The woman kept her faith and hope in God, and although the judge did not fear God, her cry was answered.  Jesus concludes the parable saying, “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?  Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.  Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth” (Luke 18:1-8).  In another passage we read about a devout man named Cornelius, who prayed constantly.  An angel of God came to him saying, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:31).
St. Paul, writing to Timothy, advises him to honor widows.  … “She who is a real widow, and is left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day” (1 Tim. 5:3-5).  In the Book of Psalms we hear the supplications of David pouring out of the dept of his heart, when he prays beseeching the Lord not to rebuke him but to be gracious to him, saying, “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.  ...I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping” (Psalms 6:1, 2, 6).

Just as the earth needs the gifts of the sky in order to re-live its cycle, likewise a Christian needs to pray to nourish his spirit.  The earth needs the blessings of God, we need the rays, light and heat of the sun.  The fields and crops need the rain of the sky, we need the fruits of the fields.  The mist must drench the plants and refresh the flowers so that we might enjoy the beauty of heaven on earth.  Without the heaven’s blessings, the earth will not exist and life will die. 

For a true Christian, life without prayer would become a silent desert.  A human being needs God’s grace.  In order to obtain God’s grace, mercy and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we ought to pray.  It is only through prayer that we connect ourselves to God.  Jesus himself being the Son of God, the Savior of all believers, prayed to the Father.  How much more we, daily sinners, need to pray and not be taken over by our social and physical needs and routine.  Our daily life, basically what we do to earn, live and survive, is a routine and a discipline set by the society.  We go with the flow.  We set sail in the direction of the wind and not in the opposite way.  We must not turn away from God, when we certainly, deep inside our hearts, know that one day we will need Him.  When that day comes, how will we expect Him to listen to our prayers and be gracious to us.  Are you, my friend, thinking that no matter what you do in your life, even if you forsake God, He will speedily listen to your needs and grant you in times of despair?  Well, think again.  God is not a compromising manager that you may offer a few words and invite him over for a dinner to take care of an important business.  No my friend, it does not work that way.  It all starts with knowing yourself and knowing God, as the psalmist says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Psalms 1:7). 

Then, and only then, you will, step by step, by daily prayers, connect yourself to Him.  When you establish peace with God, you will have no fear within you and you will resist all kinds of temptations.  Then, whatever you may ask of Him, it will be given to you as Christ says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you” (Mat. 7:7).  At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said to His disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mark 14:32-38).

Let us watch, pray and understand the wisdom and knowledge of God.        






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