Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Prayer: Struggle And Perseverance

 Pope Benedict in his continuing catecheses on prayer, returns to the Scriptures and the story of Jacob's struggle at the Ford of Jabbok (see Genesis 32:21-31). I love this passage from the Old Testament because it is one that I think we can all relate to to some degree. There is much for meditation in this passage. In it we can see our own struggles with God and with our faith. Jacob came to things in his life through deceit as we see he deceives his brother out of his birthright. Sometimes our struggles with faith or even with God are not so much that we deceive others, but we deceive ourselves. Perhaps we deceive ourselves where sin is concerned, or that we do not need to pray or even go to Mass.
God can transform all of this in us if we go to Him, if we persevere in our prayer. I love this end quote from the Holy Father's teaching today:
"Our entire lives", concluded the Holy Father, "are like this long night of struggle and prayer, passed in the desire of and request for God's blessing, which cannot be ripped away or won over through our strength, but must be received with humility from Him as a gratuitous gift that allows us, finally, to recognize the face of the Lord. And when this happens, our entire reality changes: we receive a new name and God's blessing".
In reading the Pope's  remarks today, I was brought back to today's Gospel reading on the Vine and Branches (John 15:1`8). We need to be pruned throughout our lives and we need to remember that without God we, on our own can do nothing. At times the pruning may come through the struggle. Prayer will help us accept the pruning, which can be painful at times. It will also help us to cultivate the virtue of humility that we need in approaching God in our prayer.
Prayer is vital to our relationship with God, but it takes effort on our part. As the Holy Father states, God will bless our efforts if we approach Him in all humility.
Well, enough of my musings, go read the rest of the Holy Father's catechesis for this week.


kam said...

Very, very nice. Thanks for your words and the Holy Father's.

Mary333 said...

Excellent post, Karin! I have struggled with God and with my faith many times during my lifetime. Especially when I was young, I didn't want to believe that I was as sinful as I was so I often made "excuses" for my behavior.

Pruning may be tough but we definitely need it! The priest who said Mass today spoke about this pruning at length today and he also pointed out that if we are not attached to the Vine all our efforts are useless and as you say we can do nothing without God. Prayer helps immeasurably. If I backslide in my prayer life, I backside period :)
God bless!

Karinann said...

Thanks kam and Mary.
Mary, I know what you mean about the backsliding- it is definitely a slippery and dangerous slope!
Blessings to you both.

Colleen said...

Great post. I love the quote from Pope Benedict and our long night of struggle and prayer. So true.
And yes, prayer does take effort on our part. Often a struggle. But always worth it. God bless!

Closing Prayer

Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King

My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.