We have to realize this more deeply. With all the hustle and bustles of our world today, with all the noise and distractions that we have, we have to exert tremendous effort to maintain silence, both inside and outside us, if only to manage to pray.
Prayer, as we all know, is our basic way of connecting with our father God, the source of all good things. We have to do everything to be able to pray, for without it we would be detaching ourselves from the very foundation of our life.
But given the conditions nowadays, prayer is practically ignored and neglected, and even considered as a nuisance, irrelevant and useless. Thus, many people are now trapped in a world of activism and all forms of self-seeking and self-absorption.
We have to recover the appreciation of prayer and the need for silence and recollection to be able to pray. Christ himself, who is already God, needed to pray. And in spite of the very demanding redemptive work he had to do, he always exerted the effort to find time and the appropriate place to pray.
Many times, he had to wake up early, way before morning, and to go to a deserted place to pray. There were even times when he had to spend the whole night praying. And let’s not forget that before he launched his public life, he spent forty days in a desert to pray and fast.
Christ withdrew from the crowd to have silence and recollection, so indispensable for him to pray. We should also realize that we need to have silence and recollection to keep our relation with God strong and vibrant.
We cannot deny that it is when we manage to have silence and recollection that we can listen more to the voice of God who is actually always intervening in our life. We would become more discerning of God’s will and ways, and more able to be docile to him.
We obviously have to do a lot of self-denial to achieve this ideal condition for prayer. But we should not be surprised by this and should be eager to go through them. Among the things we can do in this regard are to always give priority to a time of prayer and meditation and to look for the appropriate place and time for it.
Ideally, it should be in a place of prayer like a church or chapel and before the Blessed Sacrament. The time is whenever we can be most at peace with God. We have to learn how to get away for the meantime from our usual activities. More than this, we have to know how to silence our passions, and to focus our inner faculties — intelligence, will, imagination, memory, etc. — on God alone.
That’s when we can start to hear and feel the promptings of God. Let’s remember that more than us, it is God who directs our prayer. He is the one who will show us things.
Many times we have to force ourselves to go through this process of attaining silence and recollection for our prayer. We have to convince ourselves that for us to be able to pray, and to persevere in it, we should feel the need for prayer more deeply. We can only pray when we feel that need rather than when we depend on our wanting to pray.
That is part of the self-denial Christ is asking of us. We should go beyond feelings and wanting. With our will, always supported by God’s grace, we can manage to pray in spite of contradicting or uncooperative feelings.
When we manage to have silence and recollection in our moments of meditation, it is likely also that we can manage to have them when we get immersed in our daily routine of work and other concerns. This is an art and skill that is so badly needed these days./WDJ