Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

4/24/2012 (3 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 (3 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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Living Faith

Worldwide Christian persecution among four vital issues behind Pope and Russian patriarch's visit Watch

Image of Both the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church have spoken out clearly to stop the

By Andrea Gagliarducci, CNA/EWTN News

The first, historic meeting between a Pope and a Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church does not come from nowhere. Both the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Holy See have been working on such an event for decades. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - In at ... continue reading


Can we set aside our differences?: Catholics and Russian Orthodox Patriarch unite for the first time in 1,000 years Watch

Image of Patriarch Kirill will meet Pope Francis on this historic day (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Vatican recently announced the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The meeting is set for Friday and will be the first time the heads of the Catholic and Russian ... continue reading


Oldest copy of Old Testament recognized as world treasure Watch

Image of The oldest surviving copy of the Hebrew Bible has been officially recognized.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The oldest surviving copy of the Old Testament was officially recognized as a world treasure by the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Aleppo Codex is the oldest surviving copy of the Hebrew ... continue reading


More than a thousand 'super confessors' released by Pope Francis to tackle 'reserved sins' Watch

Image of One of the Pope's

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Those who commit "reserved sins," transgressions that are deemed especially egregious by the Catholic Church, will have another chance this Jubilee Year. Those who have committed such sins previously only pardonable by the Pope may now seek out the 1,142 ... continue reading


'What could happen if every church would rise up in prayer': Christians join before U.S. Supreme Court to call for prayer Watch

Image of Texas Loves Life stands to protect the unborn (bound4life).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Christians stand together outside the U.S. Supreme Court to call other believers to pray the pro-life law passes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While the Supreme Court considers a Texas pro-life law, Texas Loves Life calls for Christians to pray for the fates of ... continue reading


If 'Jubilee doesn't arrive to the pockets, it's not a true Jubilee,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of In his continued catechesis on mercy as seen in Scripture, the Pope noted how the Jubilee year is an

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

For Pope Francis, mercy is not just spiritual, but is something that ought to be expressed in concrete acts of service and in sharing one's goods with the poor, which was a key tradition during Jubilee years throughout Scripture. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue reading


'You can't have Jesus': NASA accused of censoring use of Christ's name Watch

Image of NASA announces the use of Jesus' name in e-communications is a violation of the First Amendment (SacredHeart).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Members of the Praise and Worship Club, composed of NASA employees, were shocked to receive a notice from NASA ordering they cease to include Jesus' name in their religious e-mails. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The use of Jesus' name came up in May 2015, when ... continue reading


MAKE YOURSELF COUNT! Complete this quick Ash Wednesday survey

Image of Take the Ash Wednesday survey so we can better serve your needs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online is conducting a global survey on Ash Wednesday practices. Each reader is asked to participate once. The survey will take less than a minute to complete. The results of the survey will help Catholic Online determine how best to serve your needs in the ... continue reading


Santa Muerte gains popularity throughout Mexico - Will Pope Francis react during his visit? Watch

Image of Santa Muerte's popularity has spread throughout South America (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Despite the Catholic Church openly saying Santa Muerte is not recognized as a saint, the death saint continues to spread in popularity among Mexican citizens. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Santa Muerte is an absurdity," Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Mexico's ... continue reading


Bible-themed luxury resort to be built in San Diego? Watch

Image of Televangelist seeks to build Bible-themed resort (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Televangelist Morris Cerullo has been attempting to build a Bible-themed luxury resort for the past few years - and now there is only one more hurdle to jump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After purchasing a foreclosed Mission Valley hotel, Cerullo's plans for ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 58:9-14
9 Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen to me, Yahweh, answer me, for I am poor and ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:27-32
27 When he went out after this, he noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 13th, 2016 Image

St. Catherine de Ricci
February 13: St. Catherine was born in Florence in 1522. Her ... Read More