Comboni Lay Missionaries

PRAYER

PRAYER

Yesterday our brother Eric Ezati (Ugandan CLM) pass away. We leave here the last post he sent us from Uganda with a single “Check of this can help anyone”.

Jesús

Greetings to you all from Uganda the pearl of Africa. Hopefully all is going on well. As you all know currently we are coming to the final stages of our Formation of the three Candidates who God willingly will take place on 12th May 2019.

We had an input about prayer from Fr. Sylvester MCCJ the former Provincial Superior of Uganda who took us through this topic about prayers that I feel we need to share with you all. A lot has been said about prayer and every day we hear about prayer and we are still continue to read about prayers including reading the Spiritual books, prayer books, consulting our Spiritual Directors, we have spiritual retreats and many other sources of spiritual nourishment to improve on our prayer life. Despite all these we feel dry and we imagine that we do not pray well and ask our friends, colleagues and many other people to pray for us. Here we shall share with you what Fr. Sylvester took us through. Hope this information can help us to improve in our prayer life.

He said that prayer is our greatest encounter with God. This encounter can be challenging to understand as the different encounters we meet daily may reflect otherwise of what we intent to do. He brought out this well when he said in life, being religious does not mean you do not follow life in the normal way like any other ordinary people. This is exactly what we hear in the book of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-12 that very clearly explains this in our routine scriptural readings from the Holy Bible. All this should make us to know and understand that our different Apostolate we are involved in is possible because of God but not our own personal and human effort like many times we believe. Our Apostolate depends on what moves in our mind in the whole day, he challenged us that the first person you have in your mind when you wake up in the morning and the last person you will think about before sleeping at night can be a source of your joy or pain. This means if God is not the first person in your mind in the morning and the last in your mind in the evening, it means we still need a lot to work in our daily prayer life. At the end of all these daily routine activities that we do fail, prayer should be the answer and therefore prayer should be our daily vitamin to supplement us in our life activities to be in the right direction towards the Divine being we all want to see face to face one day at the end of our life on this world. We should therefore thirst for God through all our life as Psalm 62(63) says it all. He challenged us to digest this wonderful prayer in our life and achieve this longing for God through prayer in our daily life. He said God can never put our calls on hold, or put them busy no matter what time of the day or night we call to God, he said there is direct phone line to God that does not need Airtime, or phone battery or network congestion like we experience in all our days. He said God is so direct with us unlike human beings whose positive response will depend on the relationship we have with the person who calls us for help. We need to know that God comes to us and talks to us in every way of our life, which can be direct or indirect many times.

Fr. Sylvester challenges us by asking what legacy we are going to leave as an individual when we will die? He also asks us that what our first priority as an individual when we start and end our day? And where does prayer stand in our life? He said that many activities we do including prayer are mostly routine with no deep attachment from our heart and soul which is not good for a good prayerful life. We need a very deep relation like Psalm 62(63) for God to easily take root in our life. There should be new things brought to our life by prayer life and what are these new things that can daily come to our life as a result of prayer life? This point he made us to understand better by asking us to explain the relationship between our two eyes; they blink together, move together, cry together, see together but they never see each other. He said this should be the type of prayer with God in our daily hour but not to leave God in the Church or by the bed side and go back to him when we retire to bed. He said our relationship with God should be like the relationship between a blind wife and a deaf Husband. Above all Fr. Sylvester said that there can be no good prayer life without faith and this prayer life develops through experience we go through with the faith we have in God, which can be either positive or negative in our daily life. He said faith is very central in our experience of prayer and he said if we cannot prove, then we should believe like our Father in Faith Abraham Genesis Chapter 12 and the following. Abraham believed against hope as he had no child but accepted to be the Father of very many descendants.

Therefore, prayer means many things to many people. Allow me to share with you the exact words from his power point presentations which we should endevour to live in our daily lives as CLM, (start of slides):

Varied methods comprise the content of prayer: reciting the psalms alone or with others,

Pondering on the Scripture passages or other sacred texts,

Using repetition such as a word or phrase in centering meditation,

Praying the rosary,

Carrying on a conversation with God,

Walking meditatively,

Enjoying the beauty and wonder of nature,

Using the written prayers of others,

Journaling one’s own reflection and prayer,

Sitting in solitude and contemplation

Joining others for Eucharistic liturgy or participating in other sacramental celebrations,

Reading spiritually oriented books that help one pause to ponder and draw inspiration for communion with God.

And emergency prayer which consists of just one loudly spoken word” HELP”.

Body prayer

Breath prayer, etc.

To pray is to enter into a relationship with God and to have that relationship makes a difference in my life.

A bond is created with someone and that someone is God. Our Source of life continually binds each of us into a loving union. This process of prayer unfolds in a way similar to Jesus inviting his disciples to follow him into deeper friendship, a closeness that did not develop instantly. Prayer is a kind of companionship that develops step by step, as we are drawn into an expanding oneness of love.

Prayer is not only about entering into a relationship with God; it is also about being changed

Healthy prayer strengthens our bond with the Creator and also transforms us.

Where do you stay?

This was the way the disciples expressed their desire to know more about who Jesus was. He answered “come and see” Jn 1: 35 – 42. How often do we ask and come to seek Jesus where he stays in our daily endevours or we look for him on Sundays only?

Prayer is a realization that God has found us. It is allowing God to reach into us, to come alive in us. It respects God’s desire for intimacy and closeness.

Prayer is a realization that God has found us. It is allowing God to reach into us, to come alive in us. It respects God’s desire for intimacy and closeness.

Prayer is a realization that God has found us. It is allowing God to reach into us, to come alive in us. It respects God’s desire for intimacy and closeness.

Francis literally, could go out of his mind for God in a wonderful manner…”IIC 178. II C 95 capsulizes Francis’ entire purpose in life” “All his attention and affection he directed with his whole being to the one thing which he was asking of the Lord, not so much praying as becoming himself a prayer.” This is something we can learn to put prayer in our life all the days we are living and breathing in this world.

                     Prayer above all is falling in Love with God

In human love the following happens:

In everyday life, “falling in love” doesn’t need much “practical help for getting started.” It seems to just happen. Falling in love seems easy.

Sustaining a loving relationship that leads to self-sacrificing love, takes a lot of fidelity.

What do we do in the earliest stages of falling in love? Doesn’t it begin with something we call a connection? Perhaps it’s a connection with total stranger. Something happens in our hearts that lifts our spirits.

At the center of the attraction is a discovery of togetherness in some way. We connect. From then on, the growing attraction is fed by a growing, sometimes insatiable, desire to be with the one we love. Growing love feeds the desire for growing union – a desire for ways to be with the other in deeper and deeper ways. In the very beginning this may be quite unconscious, but before very long, we know we are in love. We start acting on that love. We think about, or daydream about, the other while doing all kinds of things. We call the other person more frequently, and arrange to spend time together.

We remember and replay our conversations. In the beginning, we talk about everything and anything. Nothing about the other person is boring. We want to know about all the other’s life experiences and choices, the other’s likes and dislikes, and what makes the other the person he or she is. And at each new discovery, there is a deeper bonding.

We look for ways to express our love, through tender words, through acts of caring, going out of our way to help the other. Each expression deepens the love. We always remember the very first gestures of love. And the more the love grows, the more it will lead to some level of commitment – some need to guarantee that the loved one will always be in my life and some commitment to a self-giving offering of myself to the relationship.

Falling in love with God

Is not a lovey-dovey feeling.

It is growth toward dedication and devotion. The emotional tone strong yearning and desire expressed and desire expressed in Psalm 63:2 In which the psalmist parallels life without divine communion to that of a dry; parched land seeking the moisture needed for survival: O God you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.’

The German mystic Mechtild Magdeburg depicted this acute longing for communion with God as that of a magnet being drawn to the divine. While this inner movement is dynamic and powerful, it may be marked by a quiet persistence rather than unrestrained or obvious passion. This yearning for God is sometimes indicated by an unnamable restlessness or perpetual searching. Falling in love with God: The foundation of true prayer is a friendship based on affection, a relationship developed with genuine appreciation for God.

As in human relationships with an intense longing for the other, the affective piece usually begins to wane and slip into the background while the quality of enduring, faithful love moves to the foreground.

Not everyone who has a well-developed prayer life” falls in love” with God. Sometimes there is a profound drawing toward the other, but not all prayerful relationships have this emotional dimension binding them together. What people do need is a conviction that relationship with God is an essential part of their existence.

Cruz

A BIG GOD MOMENT

Who is this One with whom I relate?

What names or metaphors do we use in our prayers to address a God of mystery, one who is accessible and touches our hearts in both formal prayer and in unexpected moments? Does it make any difference what words I use?

What does grace mean to you? Have you experienced Grace “in prayer”?

In prayer we bring ourselves to the entryway to our relationship with the Holy One, but it is God “who is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine.” Divine power at work in us gives us what we need in order for our prayer to be catalyst for union and transformation (Eph. 3:20)

Divine vigor stirring within us is grace, the loving energy of God’s movement. This gift enables us to grow into the person we are meant to be. The marvelous thing about grace is that is freely distributed. We cannot force it to be given to us.

Always divine grace draws us into relationship and encourages us into fuller life. Grace leads us into prayer and moves us out again, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout all Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8

Lk 4:1, Mk. 1:12 whether led or driven by the Spirit, we know that the loving movement of the Holy One was with Jesus, leading him into a place where he discovered more of his deeper self. He became increasingly sure of how God was active and alive in his being.

Prayer is not a competition or being competent, not an experience of winning or of accumulating good feelings and great insights. Prayer is about “showing up” with an open mind and heart, being willing and ready to grow and change.

How would you describe your relationship with God at present?

What people, events, circumstances and resources have helped you most in learning how to pray?

You are under God’s care in this journey through falling in Love with His Son and He loves you…

There is no beauty as striking as His, no power as potent as His, no feelings as stimulating as His, no words as truthful as His, no stability as sturdy as His, no strength as reliable as His, no protection as dependable as His, no gifts as precious as His, no love as enduring as His. (End of slides)

Fr. Sylvester continuous to tell us that God wants us to come to him in the way we are in our brokenness, even if we have no emotions in prayer like other people, we must know that he touches us differently not uniformly. What can we learn from our beloved Saints in the Catholic Church? It is very clear that the shoulder of Jesus to lean on is sometimes thorny, very rough for people differently and it depends on what suffering means to you as an individual. We need at least one hour with God and two hours of spiritual reading in our daily Christian life to have a very good relationship with Jesus. We must be aware of everything that happens to us on daily basis, sometimes God wants to talk to us something but we are too busy to listen to him. We all need moments of quite time in our lives to listen to the voice of God speaking to us.

Many times we are distracted in a prayer which is very normal but we need to be aware of this distraction other than denying it. Just offer such a distraction to God in prayer and in such distraction God may be revealing to you what you may need to focus most in your life and offer this to God in prayer so that He may take care of the situation. He also said that sometimes you may not be in the mood of praying which may be a sign your body is tired and exhausted and instead of forcing yourself to pray, give yourself time to rest and start to pray later after you have rested. He also stated that we should be aware of consolation and dissolutions which may not necessarily mean you are in prayer.

Fr. Sylvester also said that unnecessary feelings or lack of disgusting feelings or lack of interest in our mind when praying is a sign of the devil trying to discourage us from prayer life sometimes telling in our mind that we have another alternative to prayer. When such moments come to our life, we need to seek the help of our Spiritual Directors at all cost so that they can help us to overcome such feelings in order to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in our life. When we have a good Spiritual life in us, the feelings are obvious; joy, serenity, inner peace which are a fruit of good prayer life experienced in a person. He also pointed out that God responds differently in our life in his own unique divine ways as he is in control of our lives. Therefore when we witness many people being blessed in their prayers more than ourselves, it should not make us give up in prayer life. We need to know that even though human beings can fail professionally, we should leave the rest to God who knows why certain things happen to us, and just use words of Mother Mary by saying; let your will be done in us, Luke 1:38. This directly means our relationship with God should not depend on any conditions we put in order to love him but we must love him because he is our father who loves us unconditionally. During prayer, sometimes we have human voices in our mind that distract us, let us try to ignore them from our spiritual journey. Let us know that in Spiritual life, there are no accidents but there are only opportunities that we must endevour to concentrate on, no matter how such negative thoughts affect us in our prayer life. This should also make us to find God in every situation of our life at all times. This is so because prayer and meditation life are very tricky as we see when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac to him. Such situations call us to have inner discipline in our heart in order to be comfortable at peace with God. This therefore needs us to have time to reconnect with God at every moment knowing well that our time of dying is sooner than later, as we don’t know when we individually shall die but we must be ready to die at any time and face God’s judgement on the last day* Mathew 25:31-46. This scripture should be our daily guide in life to prepare us for final judgement at the time of our death. Therefore we need to welcome God into whatever situations we face in our life and be totally surrendering to his will to whatever situation we are going through in our life.

Therefore we are called to live prayerful lives from daybreak up to sun set and not only reserve praying on Sundays and put God at rest during the week days when we don’t go for Sunday Mass.

Ezati Eric CLM Uganda and Fr. Sylvester MCCJ, Uganda Province

* We are sure that he prepared himself and the Lord welcomes him in his lap as a beloved Father. We pray for his eternal rest.

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