The Word: Pray, how often?

Published 5:19 am Saturday, May 4, 2024

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On the second floor of a house he built, sat a 93-year-old man, Marty Leuhrs. He was not able to walk, except to shuffle behind a walker, yet he lived alone with only the aid of a housekeeper who came three days a week. He sat a lot. He sat alone. Marty owned no television, did not listen to the radio, and never touched a smartphone. He looked out the window at the trees most of the day… and prayed.

One conversation with Marty I will never forget. With the earnestness that can only come from a life-long passion, he looked at me and asked, “Do you know how to pray always?”

Evidently, this is a question of weighty importance. Our Lord and St. Paul left us clear instructions to “pray without ceasing” (Lk. 18, 1 & I Thes. 5,17). 

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One definition of prayer is “the union of our will with God’s will.” That means that whenever we are doing the will of our Heavenly Father, we are praying. We can be sure that Jesus followed His own commandment to pray always, and He tells us, “I do always the things that please Him” (Jn. 8,29). Almost anything can become a prayer. God gave us teeth; we take care of them. Yes, brushing your teeth can be a prayer! 

The more often we can re-focus our attention and renew our intention of doing what pleases God, the more perfect will our prayer become. This can be done in many ways, but Marty was particularly insistent on a method called ejaculatory prayer. These are short, silent aspirations sent up to God at any time of day during any activity. Perhaps, “My Jesus, have mercy on me,” or even just, “Jesus, mercy!” or “Jesus, show me the Truth!” 

Anything can serve to remind us to make these prayers: passing under a certain doorway; when we pause to wake up our computers; when we reach into our pockets for our phones or when we wash our hands…

While we talk to God, we must leave ourselves open for God to talk to us. God is one; His Divine Will is not separated from Himself. When we do what He wills, we truly open up a communication with our Father. But don’t look for anything out of the ordinary. His communication with us is most often through His Will, which includes both events and people He allows to affect our lives. Thus, all the events of our daily lives, when put in the perspective of doing everything to please Him, are but a thin veil which cover God Himself. As we progress, this veil becomes thinner and thinner until it is finally drawn back altogether and we enter Eternity to praise Him forever.

It took Marty over 90 years. Don’t become impatient, it is the work of a lifetime and the very best investment we can make for our Eternal retirement.

Br. Maximilian Watner is on the staff at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Buckingham County. He can be reached at