Prayer : The First Pillar of Lent

Prayer: The First Pillar of Lent

 

As we continue to walk this redemptive journey in Lent, I would like to explore the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and alms giving. I will be going deeper into these three pillars in coming articles, so stay tuned for our next blogpost.

Prayer

Today, let’s look at prayer. What is prayer? In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayer is defined as a ‘vital and personal relationship with the living and true God’ (CCC 2558). In CCC 2564, it goes on to state that it is ‘covenant relationship between God and man in Christ. St. John Vianney has written many things on prayer. One of my favorite description on prayer by him is that prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself

As men and women created in the image and likeness of God, our inmost beings are created with deep desires. These desires are there to align ourselves towards God; it is what keeps us in tuned with Him. Often these desires manifest themselves in different types of longing or yearning, but it is safe to say that we can narrow it down to six fundamental desires: We all have the desire to see and be seen, to love and to be loved, and to know and to be known. Everything that we do usually feeds into one of these desires. 

Thus, we come back to prayer. Prayer is an intimate act with our Creator; it is an act of dialogue with Him and where allow Him to bring down our walls. It is a complete state of vulnerability and longing, of love and intimacy with God. In 1 Kings 19:11-12, we read about Elijah in a cave, where outside of the cave there is a passing strong wind, an earthquake and a fire. All of these are loud noises. Scripture clearly states that God was not present in any of those, yet he comes to Elijah in a still, small voice. It is this still, small voice that we are searching for when we commune with God in prayer. It takes some practice in interior silence to be able to listen to what God wants to tell you. Do not believe the lie that only great saints and prophets hear God. YOU are a saint in the making too. As St. John Paul II said, “ We’re called to be saints in the world!”. Frequent and earnest prayer is the stepping stone to sainthood. It is not a call that is for a select few, but for all of us. We are all in need of prayer. 

You are probably quite familiar with the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert. He went into the desert to pray and there he was tempted by the Devil. If the Devil did not even think twice about tempting the Son of God when He was in prayer, why do we think we are going to have it easy? Yes, temptations are going to be there: we will be distracted, we will have work to do, we will have things that come up just as we sit down to pray, etc. This is OK. When we are in tune with God, our entire day can be offered up as a prayer. Our work, tending to our families, spending time with our kids, playing sports with our friends, etc., can all be turned into a prayer, if we offer it up to God

Temptation

The world we live in today is a continuous cacophony of noise. The pornified culture is all around us to keep this noise going. Every corner we turn to, we see it. It is in ads, books, posters, and movies, even in daily conversations by people around us. It has infiltrated every nook and corner of our daily lives, stirring anxiety, confusion, guilt, shame, and self hatred. The pornified culture offers an illusion of the fulfillment of our heart's desires, but it is a blatant lie. It is the Tempter, doing his job and doing it well. In order to fight these temptations, we must utilize one of the most important tools: prayer.

Mark 14:32-39 recounts the story when Jesus went with his disciples to Gethsemane to pray. He had Peter, James, and John with Him. He told them to stay awake and pray, yet when he returns from His own prayer, he finds them sleeping. Jesus then says,

“ Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

In the work that we do at Freedom Coaching, we have many tools to overcome pornography compulsion, and we walk this journey towards freedom with our clients, and essential to the process of being victorious over temptation is prayer, which is directed by the Master Himself. 

There are many ways in which to pray against temptation, but at root it is about taking the posture of humility, of acknowledging who one is before God, and allowing Him to fight within us and for us. Many of our Faith traditions can assist us in this battle. In the Byzantine church, there is a beautiful prayer that we recite everyday during Lent called the prayer of St. Ephraim:

O LORD, Master of my life, grant that I may not be infected with the spirit of slothfulness and inquisitiveness, with the spirit of ambition and vain talking.

{Making a prostration}

Grant instead to me, your servant, the spirit of purity and of humility, the spirit of patience and neighborly love.

{Making a prostration}

O Lord and King, grant me the grace of being aware of my sins and of not thinking evil of those of my brethren. For you are blessed, now and ever, and forever. 

{Making a prostration}
Amen.

I recommend taking this up daily during Lent in your prayer life. There is a power and a beauty in this prayer, for we are reminded of our frailness and total dependence on God. We were not made to be all self sufficient. We are pilgrims on a journey and our destination is in Heaven with God. During this journey, we will encounter many difficulties, as did the Israelites in the desert, but we are not alone. Prayer is God walking with us, communing with us and guiding us, giving us strength and perseverance on this journey. 

Praying Through the Temptation

How can we battle effectively against temptation with prayer? First, start with praise and thanksgiving. Praising God and giving Him thanks for the many blessings in your life will help get us out of the funk. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Next, ask God earnestly for the grace to fight the temptation confronting us. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). Lastly, empty and abandon ourselves completely to the grace and mercy of God, and we will find divine strength to endure and overcome whatever trial comes our way. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Prayer and Healing

We are all broken people (in one degree or another) in need of prayer. Prayer not only helps us fight temptation, but also brings us healing from our brokenness and makes us whole again. All of us carry different wounds that we acquire throughout our lives and these wounds affect our relationship with others as well as our relationship with God. God wants to heal us and give us His healing touch. Prayer is us reaching out to Him and holding His hand. 

Psalm 147:3: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

If you find yourself in need of prayer and healing, consider joining one of our free Redeemed Healing sessions, and let us pray with you. Keep an eye out for our email, as we'll be sending out info on next session soon. 

Not on our list? Message me at - [email protected], and our team will get you added.

For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. 

-St. Therese of Lisieux-

Steve Pokorny is the Founder of Freedom Coaching, a one-to-one mentoring system designed to break the power of pornified images in both men & women. His book, Redeemed Vision: Setting the Blind Free from the Pornified Culture, is available from Amazon.

February 20, 2024 - 8:00am
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