Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

4/24/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Many times we turn to God only we have fallen flat on our face.

Many times we turn to God only we have fallen flat on our face.

Highlights

By Fr. James Farfaglia

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/24/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Father James Farfaglia, Prayer, Get Serious, Spirituality, Henri Nouwen


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - We all know that prayer is essential, but for many, prayer is the last thing that we do.  At times, prayer is seen as a last resort when all of our own efforts have failed. 

This pervasive attitude, so rooted in our can-do American view of self-reliance, reminds me of a charming story about a little boy who began to ride his bicycle for the first time. 

As he rode around the neighborhood, his mom watched proudly from the front porch of their house.  As the little boy rode past his house he yelled out, "Hey, mom, look no hands!"  As he rode by the second time, he yelled out, "Hey, mom, look no hands!"  Finally, as he rode by a third time, he yelled out, "Hey mom, look no teeth!"

Many times we turn to God only we have fallen flat on our face.

In his book Compassion, Henri Nouwen writes, "Prayer requires that we stand in God's presence with open hands, naked and vulnerable, proclaiming to ourselves and to others that without God we can do nothing" (page 102).  He goes on to say that "prayer must be our first concern" (page 102).

A well organized and daily spiritual life is an essential part of the Christian way of life.  Prayer is a discipline and it requires personal discipline.  As I wrote in my book Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics, "Discipline is essential.  You will not be able to live out a serious spiritual life without it" (page 31).
  
Nouwen explains that, "the discipline of prayer is the discipline by which we liberate the Spirit of God from entanglement in our impatient impulses.  It is the way by which we allow God's spirit to move more freely" (Compassion, page 103).

He continues with these helpful insights: "The discipline of prayer makes us stop and listen, wait and look, taste and see, pay attention and be aware.  Although this may sound like advice to be passive, it actually demands much willpower and motivation.  We may consider the discipline of prayer a form of inner displacement.

The ordinary and proper response to our world is to turn on the radio, open the newspaper, go to another movie, talk to more people, or to look impatiently for new attractions and distractions.  To listen patiently to the voice of the Spirit in prayer is radical displacement which at first creates unusual discomfort.

We are so accustomed to our impatient way of life that we do not expect much from the moment.  Every attempt to 'live it through' or to 'stay with it' is so contrary to our usual habits that all our impulses rise up in protest.  But when discipline keeps us faithful, we slowly begin to sense that something so deep, so mysterious, and so creative is happening here and now that we are drawn toward it - not by our impulses but by the Holy Spirit" (Compassion, page 105).

It is true that prayer is not an easy enterprise.

The spiritual life will always be a battle.

There always will be obstacles that are necessary to overcome if we wish to live a life of prayer.

First of all, many people struggle with distractions when they pray.  I have always encouraged people to be patient when they are distracted. However, it is true that distractions are rather normal, especially for all those who are beginning to develop a prayer life. 

Personal discipline, choosing a suitable place, using a good text when necessary and selecting a proper time for prayer are all important aspects when determined to overcome distractions in prayer.

Secondly, aridity is another major obstacle that people struggle to overcome.  However, it must be understood that spiritual dryness is a normal road of purification that the Lord uses in order to bring us to greater heights of the spiritual life. 

The quality of prayer must not be measured by personal feelings.  Feelings come and go.  Our personal experience of God through prayer will fill us with peace and provide renewal and strength, but it is important that we leave consolations to the will of God.

Thirdly, many people become impatient with God because they want instant answers.  God is not a computer.  Our God is a loving Father who knows all of our needs. 

Finally, probably the biggest obstacle is that most people are just too busy.  Too many people are like Martha, "anxious and worried about many things" (Luke 10: 41).  We leave prayer to the last moment of the day or when all of our own efforts fail.   

As I wrote in my book Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics, I honestly do not know what it takes for people to really want to pray.  Perhaps spiritual thirst is a gift.  However, we need to remember the words of Sacred Scripture.  "The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you" (James 4:8).

Persist on praying no matter what.  Persevere in your daily prayer routine and let the Holy Spirit take it from there.  If you feel that your faith is weak, ask the Holy Spirit to deepen your faith.

-----

Father James Farfaglia is the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX.  Visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Living Faith

Labor Day: Human Work Has Been Raised to the Grandeur of God Watch

Image of For the Christian, all human work participates in the ongoing work of redemption

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

When God Incarnate entered into our created world, he sanctified humankind and the labor in which men engage in order to shape creation. It is in gazing through the supreme lens of the consummation of God's revelation, the Person of Jesus Christ, that the divine light ... continue reading


Pope: 'God wants us to grow in the ability to come together, forgive each other' Watch

Image of Pope Francis drinks a traditional South American drink called mate offered by the faithful as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, addressing more than 12,000 people that had gathered for the pope's catechesis and blessing, touched upon a common human trait that everyone must strive to overcome. The Pope said that while envy, jealousy and cruelty are human instincts, they are ... continue reading


Why Do We Commemorate the Beheading of John the Baptizer? Watch

Image of The Beheading of John the Baptizer

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We now refer to this Feast as the Passion of John the Baptizer more often than the Beheading of John the Baptizer. However, given the realities we face in this new missionary age of the Church, the actual beheading rushes to the forefront. We are seeing it in our own ... continue reading


How much power do you really have? More than you think!

Image of YCVF continues to deliver quality learning tools to Catholic students.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earlier this year, representatives from Catholic Team Global donated a batch of XO Tablets to a humble Catholic school. Now, Catholic Team Global is preparing to do it again with support from its members and valued readers of Catholic Online. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Challenging the just war theory

Image of The horrors of war persist long after the shooting stops.

By Tony Magliano

Is there such a thing as a just war? Can the massive death and destruction of armed conflict ever be morally justified by followers of the Prince of Peace? For the first disciples of Christ the answer was a resounding "No!"During the first 300 years of Christianity it ... continue reading


St Augustine Teaches Us How to Read the Bible Watch

Image of St. Augustine writing

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, all Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) The Greek means God-breathed. They reveal Jesus Christ and our encounter with Him is the heart of what it means to be a Christian. ... continue reading


Spiritual Childhood and Contemplative Prayer Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise. Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of ... continue reading


How to Avoid Sliding into Pharisee-ism Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest, by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) hangs in the London Museum of Art.  The painting depicts Jesus, standing before the High priest - with His holy hands bound. The Priest, who at the time I thought was a Pharisee, is looking up with an arrogant demeanor and a pointed finger.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

A priest friend once reminded me that not ALL the Pharisees were so blinded by their self-righteousness that they failed to recognize that the One whom they so often sought to correct was God Incarnate. And, of course, he was correct. The Pharisees were a genuine ... continue reading


What every catechist needs but few have

Image of A complete library of books for catechists should feature the USCCB's full collection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you're a catechist, then you're aware of the importance of your role. You provide the core of Catholic education to our youth and adults who are entering the Church. As such, you are familiar with the teachings of the Church and can probably answer most questions ... continue reading


DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS: Up to 50 Iraqi Christian refugees sleeping in areas the size of bedroom Watch

Image of Mosul, one of the largest cities in Iraq, is now completely empty of Christians as is Qaraqosh, a town dating back to 1,000 years before Christ and inhabited by mostly Christians for 2,000 years.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mattresses scattered around church altars. Up to 50 people sleeping in areas the size of a single bedroom. Church grounds dotted with makeshift tents in 105-degree heat. This was just a few of the deplorable conditions a delegation sent by Melkite Catholic ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:14-30
14 'It is like a man about to go abroad who summoned ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 30th, 2014 Image

St. Rumon
August 30: St. Rumon, also known as Ruan, Ronan, and Ruadan, was probably a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter