The Power of Prayer
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
Prayer made with the proper conditions is sure to produce its effects, that is, it is certain to obtain from God what we petition for. It is infallible, because God has engaged Himself by His sacred word, and by His fidelity to His promises to grant our requests when we pray as we ought.
There are many beautiful examples in Sacred Scripture of the powerful efficacy of prayer. We read in the Book of Exodus that while the Israelites were fighting against the Amalakites, Moses stood on the summit of a hill praying that his people might obtain the victory. Whilst Moses kept his hands lifted up in prayer the Israelites overcame, but if he let them fall down, if he slackened in prayer, they began to have the worst of the fight (Exodus xvii, II). “Which of the just has ever fought without prayer? Moses prays and overcomes, he quits prayer and is overcome” (St. Chrysostom).
King Ezechias prayed in his sickness, and he received his health. “I have heard thy prayer, and have seen thy tears: and behold I have healed thee” (4 Kings XX 5)
“Elias was a man passible like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James v, 17, 18).
There is no exaggeration in the remark of St. John Climacus, that prayer offers a pleasing violence to the heart of God, for God is not ashamed to declare Himself forced to yield to our petitions. So much so, that, constrained by the fervent pleadings of Moses, He said, “Let Me alone, that my wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them: and I will make of thee a great nation. But Moses besought the Lord his God, saying, Why, O Lord, is Thy indignation enkindled against Thy people, whom Thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? . . . Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants, to whom Thou sworest by Thy own self, saying, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and this whole land that I have spoken of, I will give to your seed, and you shall possess it for ever. And the Lord was appeased from doing the evil which He had spoken against His people” (Exod. xxxii, 10-14).
And conscious of the great power of the prayer of Jeremias over His compassionate heart, the Almighty said to the Prophet: “Therefore do not thou pray for this people, nor take to thee praise and supplication for them, and do not withstand Me” (Jerem. vii, 16). St. Jerome, commenting on these two texts, remarks, that the words which the Lord spoke to the Prophet, “do not withstand Me,” and to Moses, “Let Me alone,” show clearly that prayer has power to appease the Divine wrath, and to force God to grant us peace and pardon.
If it should be asked, who has endowed prayer with the insuperable force which holds back the full torrent of the anger of the Most High, and constrains even the power of the Almighty to impart to us every blessing, provided only it be fitting and just? we reply: that it is God Himself, who has bound Himself by His own word to grant us every favour which we beseech Him to bestow. “And I say to you: “Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (Luke xi, 9, 10).
“Therefore I say unto you, all things whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you” (Luke xi, 24).
“Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My Name, He will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in My Name. Ask, and you shall receive” (John xvi, 23, 24).
“But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, Who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him” (James 1-5).
Surely no promise could possibly be made in clearer or more express terms. Christ could not have pledged His word with greater clearness. Our Divine Lord, not content, so to speak, with having pledged His own word, obliges Himself to fulfil it by giving His Eternal Father as an additional security. Having thus bound Himself to give the graces we ask for at His hands, our most loving Redeemer proceeds to explain the reasons which urge Him to be thus gracious. All know the boundless extent of the mercy, the liberality, the goodness, the beneficence of our God: His longing to pour forth and impart to His creatures those immense treasures which He, as being the well spring and fountain-head of every good gift, contains within Himself. So great is it, indeed, that St. Augustine believes it far to surpass all our desires, all our yearnings, hopes, and expectations: for God is more anxious to give than we are to receive, and He is much more desirous of showing mercy, than we are to be freed from our misery (Serm. 19, De Verb. Domini). And this is the very reason alleged by our Lord, when accounting for the influence of prayer on the heart of God.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
Of Resisting Temptation.
No man is free from temptations. They purify us, prove us, instruct us, humiliate us. It is not only by flight or by violent resistence that we triumph, but by a calm patience, and by abandoning ourselves confidently into the hands of God. Let us watch, nevertheless, according to the precept of Jesus Christ, watch ye and pray (Mark, xiv. 28). We can easily conquer a temptation at its birth, but if we let it increase and grow strong, we suffer, in succumbing to it, the punishment of neglecting it and of our own presumption. Do you really desire to conquer? If so, repulse the enemy at his very first attack. Do you wish to draw the advantage from the conflict, in view of which God permits you to be tempted? If so, acknowledge your misery, your weakness, your helplessness; and humiliate yourself more and more. Humility is the foundation of our security, of our peace, and of all perfection.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch XIII reflection.
July Devotion: The Precious Blood of Jesus
Virtues to practice: Simplicity, faith, liberty of spirit, cheerfulness
Prayers in honor of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.
Most merciful Jesus, lover of souls! I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thy Immaculate Mother, wash in Thy Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony, and who are to die this day. Amen.
Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying.
100 days indul.—Pius IX., Feb. 1850.
“May Thy Blood, shed for us, O Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for me the remission of all my sins, my negligences, my ignorance; may It strengthen, increase and preserve within me, Faith, Hope, Charity, Grace, and every virtue, may It bring me to everlasting life; may It deliver the souls of my parents and of all those for whom I am bound to pray.”
—St. Catharine of Sienna.
O blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my soul to purify it. O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my heart to inflame it. O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my mind to enlighten it. O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my thoughts to elevate them! O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my every action to sanctify them; in every power and faculty of my being, that all within me may exalt Thy might, proclaim Thy benefits and publish Thy mercies!
Praises to the Precious Blood.
Glory be to Jesus!
Who in bitter pains,
Poured for me the life Blood,
From His sacred veins.
Grace and life eternal
In that Blood I find;
Blessed be His compassion,
Blessed through endless ages
Be the precious stream,
Which from endless torment
Doth the world redeem.
There the fainting spirit
Drinks of life her fill;
There, as in a fountain
Laves herself at will.
O the Blood of Christ!
It soothes the Father’s ire,
Opes the gates of heaven,
Quells eternal fire.
Abel’s blood for vengeance
Pleaded to the skies;
But the Blood of Jesus
For our pardon cries.
Oft as it is sprinkled
On our guilty hearts,
Satan in confusion,
Oft as earth exulting
Wafts its praise on high,
Hell with terror trembles.
Heaven is filled with joy.
Lift ye then your voices,
Swell the mighty flood
Louder still and louder,
Praise the Precious Blood!
(100 days indulgence once a day.— Pius VII. , Oct. 1815.)
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