Prayer Works, and Prayer Is a Vital Necessity

“If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.” (CCC 2741)

Stanisław Dębicki, “Pray,” 1887
Stanisław Dębicki, “Pray,” 1887 (photo: Public Domain)

We live in an age of skepticism, cynicism and apathy. Despair runs rampant, as does distrust. The presumption of ulterior motives — of being manipulated, brainwashed or culled for others’ purposes — remains a constant in the news, online, and in our politics. Most especially, anything that comes from religion, from sacred tradition, or that involves something not guaranteed to be tangible here, is viewed as mere wishful thinking.

One can interpret something to be a blessing from God because it is what one willed, and therefore proclaim it to be a blessing from God — but that doesn’t mean it was a blessing from God.

Prayer, however, is the exception to this cynicism, because prayer always works — and one can know it, even if only in one’s heart. We experience countless miracles in a day, all because God loves us more than we praise him, God loves us more than we follow him, and God seeks to win our hearts and is beyond generous in doing so.

God loves us enough to allow himself to be hit, hurt, nailed, killed, mocked, denied and abandoned. And still, God breaks through all of that in the Resurrection. God breaks through all of that in our hearts when we pray. He invites us to partake of his infinite love, generosity, forgiveness and mercy.

Every time we pray, God hearkens to our heart, to our souls seeking to be repaired in all the ways our souls need. He offers to restore everything we allow. Jesus tells us to “ask” and receive, “seek” and find. Every time we pray, it is asking, it is seeking, and our Lord loves to come to us whenever we call. Every time we pray, it is an active act of seeking God. Every time we pray, we are turning back to God and away from the world. It is why we should pray without ceasing, so that we never turn away from him. 

Prayers have been reduced to an expression of piety that bears little weight in the world’s eyes. “Thoughts and prayers” does not carry the promised reality of really reflecting on the suffering of others and how to alleviate it, and “prayers” are regarded as an expression without intention.

We know that there is no action more powerful than prayer, and the world needs the visible reminders that prayer is efficacious.

That way, when we pray for blessings for others, they will know that we actually go to a room privately somewhere and petition our Lord with our whole heart on their behalf.

They’ll also see how the Holy Spirit works through us to bring them comfort. By our words and our deeds, by what we do and do not do, we’ll reveal our deep love of Christ that infuses all we think do and say. We’ll also help the world know, every time we pray, any time anyone of us prays, that God is listening and moved to act on our behalf.

If we live as God has willed us, and pray as God taught us, people will be pulled to Christ and ask us to pray for them, and discover that they too want to enter into deeper friendship with our Lord.