Monday, December 16, 2013

The Efficacy of Our Prayers

About a month ago, I saw this quote from Dr. Peter Kreeft:

I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers to God make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those effects down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives.    

I was a little taken aback. I thought: can that be true? So I asked my spiritual director that very question. He replied, “Indubitably, my dear Photini. (If it weren’t, I’m wasting my life away.)”

Well, I thought, the same goes for me! But this little exchange made me realize that I don’t really believe that my prayers have much of an effect. And I realized that a conversation I had had with my spiritual director years ago had led me to that conclusion. I still believe it was important to pray (obviously! Since I have kept up the practice all along!), but I didn’t realize how much I doubted the efficacy of my prayers.

My SD further reminded me that whether or not there’s anything special about my prayers is immaterial: the Bible commands us to pray for one another. The degree of efficacy is something only God knows. As long as we desire to and actually try to conform our wayward wills to His perfect will, we need not concern ourselves with investing in an “efficacimeter”: we can leave that to God. Even if, objectively speaking, they’re only 1% efficacious, we still ought to pray for one another. And to assure another of our prayers is itself a spiritual work of mercy.

I also started to wonder why God should listen to me, sinner that I am! But my SD pointed out that God will listen to me because He’s promised to do so. And if we can’t rely on God’s promises, then what else is there?

Those demons will do whatever they can to stop us from praying, won't they!? Reading that quote above and thinking about it, and asking my SD those question gave me a newfound confidence in my prayers. And with that growing confidence in my prayers, and I want to pray. Instead, though, after the initial burst of joy, I began to feel depressed, and I just want to weep. Why? Who knows? Tears of relief, in part. Tears of despair in part, too, for lost years. Tears over misunderstandings. Tears over my current life. 

But, I looked at it as another trial-and-tribulation to offer for the love of God and salvation of souls, etc. I was happy about that. I can’t change the past, so there’s no point in dwelling on it, other than to repent with a firm purpose of amendment.

“Delicta juventutis meƦ, et ignorantias meas ne memineris.” - Ps 25(24):7
(Remember no more the sins of my youth)

Yes, the Prince of Darkness will do whatever he can to stop us from praying. If he can’t make us stop, he'll try to cover us with a spirit of darkness, of confusion, of doubt, of despair.

My SD’s advice: Be aware of his tactics, make the Sign of the Cross in faith, and just laugh at his futile efforts. Above all, perfect the virtue of hope: hope and trust in the Divine Mercy.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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