And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us,
you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe.
1 Thes 2:13
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
St. Paul speaks to the Thessalonians about their efforts together to receive the Word of God and spread the Good News, even in the midst of persecution from their own people. He offers his wisdom in prayer to God, grateful that they have received not a human word but, the Word of God.
In our world today, we may not think of prayer as St. Paul speaks; prayer that is an offering of oneself for the glory of God; prayer that is our embodiment of the Holy Spirit that has no beginning nor end, but is the breath of our daily living. Instead, we may think of prayer as something that we do at different times, perhaps in the morning when we awaken or at night before we recline for rest. We pray at the celebration of Mass, we pray the Rosary. How many of us think of greeting our children or driving to work or doing the laundry or cooking a meal as a prayer. If we do all these activities as an offering of ourselves to God, we are praying.
As we are faith-filled, we are called to live each day as a liturgy of the heavens. God’s covenant with us, to be in relationship with us, is not something which we start and stop. Through Baptism and Confirmation, Christ has made us a part of the Church whose members, all of us, are priests for His God and Father. Prayer is a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. God as the creator and source of life is the one who begins prayer. God tirelessly calls us into relationship with Him and in prayer, God’s initiative of love always comes first; we respond to His invitation. “He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people ‘might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:26-28).
Pope Francis said, “The goal of the prayer is of secondary importance; what matters above all is the relationship with the Father. This is what makes the prayer transform the desire and shape it according to the will of God, whatever it may be, because the person who prays first of all aspires to union with God, who is Merciful Love.”
Participating in the celebration of Mass is the most perfect form of prayer. When you are present at the Mass, you are present with Jesus at the Last Supper, you are already present with him at the end of time. You are present with the past event and as the priest prays the Eucharistic prayer, he is also placing Christ at this event with you. We are participating at God’s altar on high. While we are gathered around an altar in church, we are gathered at God’s altar in heaven.
After this perfect prayer, we go forth to bring God’s altar in heaven on earth. As Jesus prayed, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Pope Francis asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? And with this question we are all warned: we must not desist from prayer, even if it is not answered. And it is the prayer which keeps the faith, without this, the faith wavers.”
During this month of November as we remember the saints whose prayerful living guides our own and the souls of the faithful departed whose prayerful living formed us, let us also seek to pray fully that our relationship with God is not one that stops and starts, but a continuous flow of our offering to Him who made us out of love for love.