Faithfulness to Prayer by Fr. Jacques Philippe

In his book, Thirsting for Prayer, Fr. Jacques Philippe gives a helpful image to explain how essential it is for us to be faithful to prayer.

“Someone who persists in praying day after day is like a man who acquires an old housegraphicstock-water-well-in-the-woods-filled-with-dirty-water-and-garbage_HeiTjSMF-_thumb.jpgin the country with a well in the garden.

The well has not been used for maybe the last hundred years and is blocked up. The man thinks it would be a good idea to restore it to use, so he starts clearing it. To begin with, it is not very pleasant: he finds dead leaves, stones, mud, and all sorts of rubbish, some of it quite disgusting.

If he does not give up, but continues toiling away, in the end he discovers at the bottom of the well water that is clear, fresh, and unbelievably thirst-quenching.

well-water-man-lowers-bucket-clear-50436622.jpgThat is how it is for us.

Faithfulness to prayer involves a painful confrontation with what we have in our hearts.

There we find things that weigh us down, tangled things, dirty things. But the day comes when, deeper down than our psychological wounds, even deeper than our sins and dirt, we reach a pure spring, the presence of God in the depths of our hearts, enabling our whole selves to be purified and renewed.

“He who believes in me, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

Human beings are not purified from outside inwards, but starting from within. Not so much a moral effort we make, but by discovering a Presence within us and letting him act freely.

By faithfulness to prayer we find within us a space of purity, peace, and freedom, God’s presence, closer to us than we are to ourselves. The centre of the soul is God, says St. John of the Cross.

We learn little by little to centre our lives on him, and no longer on our wounded psychological periphery – our fears, bitterness, aggressiveness, jealousies, etc. This kind of interiorization, which is one of the fruits of prayer, is much more than simply recollecting ourselves. It is discovering and uniting ourselves to an inner Presence that becomes our life and the source of all thoughts and actions” (61-62).

St. Teresa of Avila affirms how important faithfulness to prayer is: 2931.jpg

“In order to gain his end, the devil is quite right to use no half-measures on this point! Deceiver that he is, he knows that the souls who persevere in prayer are lost to him, that all the falls he brings about only help them, with God’s grace, to spring up again much higher than before and serve our Lord better: hence his determination on this point” (Life, Ch. 19).

Some questions to ask:

How faithful are we to daily prayer?

What excuses do we make to avoid being more faithful to prayer? Do we think we are wasting our time, or that there is something more important to do? Or that we are too tired to prayer?

How can we be more faithful to prayer today? What is the next step I must take in the battle to persevere in prayer?

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