Thursday, April 21, 2011

What to Pray For

Christ tells us to stay awake, but not for cards and dice, not for rowdy parties and drunken brawls, not for wine and women, but for prayer. He tells us to pray not occasionally, but constantly. "Pray," He says, "unceasingly." He tells us to pray not only during the day (for it is hardly necessary to command anyone to stay awake during the day) but rather He exhorts us to devote to intense prayer a large part of that very time which most of usually devote entirely to sleep. How much more, then, should we be ashamed of our miserable performance and recognize the enormous guilt we incur by saying no more than a short prayer or two, perhaps, during the day, and even those said as we doze and yawn.

Finally, our Savior tells us to pray, not that we may roll in wealth, not that we may live in a continuous round of pleasures, not that something awful may happen to our enemies, not that we may receive honor in this world, but rather that we may not enter into temptation. In fact, He wishes us to understand that all those worldly goods are either downright harmful, or else, by comparison with that one benefit, the merest trifles; and hence in His wisdom He placed this one petition at the end of the prayer which He had previously taught His disciples, as if it were a summary in a way, of all the rest: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
St. Thomas More, The Sadness of Christ

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