Healing paralytics, curing the blind, raising the dead, cleansing diseases, closing the mouth of hungry lions, penetrating the clouds and causing a torrential downfall of rain, stopping the rain, preventing disaster to visit a town, city, country, parting the Red sea in two walls--- what do all of these miraculous events have in common? Right! They were all accomplished by the prayer of fervent "Prayer-warriors". And that "Prayer-warrior " can be you if you desire it!
The last few verses of the Letter of James presents as a model for fervent prayer the prophet Elijah. The prayer of a fervent man is powerful indeed. When the prophet lived there was a drought for 3 and a half years, Elijah prayed and the sky poured forth rain and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5: 17-18). One man with a fervent prayer-life can actually change the climate, the weather and pierce the skies so that they pour down rain.
Jesus said that Poland was about to be chastised, utterly destroyed. However, this chastisement was prevented due to one holy "Prayer-warrior", one holy soul, and that soul was Helena Kowalska; we know her as ST. MARIA FAUSTINA. God is much more pleased with one fervent and saintly soul, then with 10,000 mediocre individuals. It is precisely this that gives us fire--- a fervent prayer life. Jesus said that He came to cast fire on the earth and that He is not at peace until that fire be enkindled! May you, my friend, be transformed into the "Fiery arrow" in the hands of Jesus the warrior. Therefore, how then can we transform an anemic, weak, insipid, mediocre spiritual life into a life overflowing with sanctity, as well as abundant apostolic fruits? The answer to this is the most simple: learning the greatest of arts, the "Art of all arts", the art of prayer.
Prayer is the breath of the soul; prayer is the key that opens up the gateway to heaven; prayer is the strength of man and the weakness of God--- because He gives to the person that really loves and trusts Him. "He who learns how to pray well learns how to live well,"says St Teresa of Avila, "Doctor of the Church/Doctor of prayer". Prayer is a matter of life and death; so much so that the great Doctor of the Church, St Alphonsus Liguori, asserted poignantly: "He who prays much well be saved; he who does not pray will be damned; he who prays little places in jeopardy his salvation." The point! Want to make it to heaven? Then learn how to pray well!
Some tips on how to attain a powerful prayer, especially of petition!
1. MOTIVATION OF FAITH. Life teaches that we will never undertake or carry out any initiative if we do not believe that it is worth the time, effort, and suffering involved. Great athletes, successful businessmen, superb students--- all have one thing in common: a determined determination and purpose to arrive at their goal. Prayer is of capital importance, but we must convince ourselves of this! Our models, the saints, were so convinced that they spent long hours in prayer and for that reason they were able to conquer insurmountable difficulties and undaunted by countless obstacles accomplish unspeakable apostolic miracles!
2. HUMILITY. Beyond a shadow of doubt, God resists the proud but he lifts up the humble. Off the bat, at the very start of the explanation of prayer, the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlights pride as a major obstacle. The example given is the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. (Lk.18) The humble Publican, who would not dare to lift his eyes to heaven and constantly beating his breast-- Lord, have mercy on me a sinner--- found favor with God. The Blessed Virgin Mary reiterates this message: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, because he has looked upon the LOWLINESS (Humility of his handmaid). A humble heart recognizes that all the good he has done comes from God and all of his sin and misery is his own!
3. TRUST. Prayer must be accompanied by an interior attitude of Trust. If God indeed is a loving Father then he will provide for all of my needs. If an earthly Father labors to provide for his children, how much more will our Heavenly Father for us! A prayer that should often spring from our lips and start in our hearts is JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!
4. PERSEVERANCE. A major drawback in cultivating a successful prayer of petition is the lack of perseverance. Many of us like to impose time limits on God! We believe in the "Infallible Novena". Nine days, to St Jude (The miracle-worker) will do it! This is called "Micro-wave" spirituality". Food can be cooked in 2 minutes, so God should be able to work at the same time pace as the "Micro-wave!" Wrong! Never stuff God into your limited time-structure and force Him to do it your way, in your time and in your manner! Allow God to work in His time and manner! It took the great St Monica more than 30 long years of prayer, penance, fasting, copious tears after which resulted one of the greatest conversions in the history of the world--- the conversion of St Augustine! Be patient! Pray, pray, pray and persevere till the end!
5. PENANCE. Add dynamite and power to your prayer by incorporating penitential practices to your daily routine. Getting up early and being on time, giving up a dessert, drinking water over soda, prolonging your prayer time an extra 5 minutes, getting up from the table with a little bit of an appetite, forgoing condiments on your meal--- all of these are penitential practices-- that if done with the gold of love-- can prove very pleasing to God. Consequently, the quality of prayer is enhanced! Like an eagle soaring into the heights, with its two wings, so are we called to reach the heights of holiness through the practice of prayer and penance!
6. PURITY OF INTENTION. Often prayers are not heard because the intentions are not pleasing to God. Furthermore, it could be that we are praying for something that could be downright poisonous to our spiritual life. A 4-year old child in a garage that points to the brown liquid in the jar, pleading to drink it! She thinks it is chocolate milk, whereas it is really rat poison. Mother must say "No!" It could be we think we are begging God for chocolate milk, but in fact it is poison! In sum, God can say "No" to us when he sees that the petition , if granted, would be detrimental to the well-being of our soul!
7. MARY. In our prayer of petition, we should never forget to invite the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for us, to pray with us, to guide us in our prayer, to help us to persevere in our prayer, to purify our intentions in prayer. If we go to the King accompanied by the Queen, the King cannot resist! The "weak-point" of Jesus is Mary His Mother. To Mary, Jesus can deny absolutely nothing!