By Sean Mulcare
It makes sense that we would start our reflection of growth in the spiritual life with a reflection on prayer. Prayer is the most fundamental aspect of growth in the spiritual life. Without it, it is impossible to grow spiritually and to fulfill our ultimate calling in life: sanctity. In order for a person to grow closer to God, they have to pray. Just like in any relationship, if one person never talked to the other, the first would never be able to know the second. Oftentimes, people think that just showing up to Mass once a week and donating your $10 is what Catholicism is all about, and that is just wrong! The entire goal of Catholicism is to help us to become saints, and, unfortunately, this is something that we rarely hear.
The importance of prayer can not be understated. It is like breathing for the soul. If you want your soul to live and to thrive, you have to pray. God always provides the air, but it is up to us to breathe. We dedicate hours of our days to so many things, and many of them are good – sports, school, work, friends, TV, etc. – but if we don’t recognize that God is greater than all of those things, it makes sense that we wouldn’t give God time in our day. Seeing what’s most important in life in its proper order should help us to see how we should spend our lives. In the end, we will lose everything (including the good things), and we will be left with one thing: our relationship with God. Wouldn’t it make sense to act like that’s the most important thing? Understanding priorities is key; if you deeply recognize the importance of God, you will dedicate time to your relationship with him, and that will change everything.
Oftentimes, the most difficult part of anything is starting, and it’s the same with prayer. Starting to pray allows God to start actively working in your life. If I am never open to him, how can I receive anything from him? Giving God a chance to work will start to change your life. Of course, it’s up to us how much of a chance we give him to change our lives. Five minutes of prayer a day will start to allow us to be open to God, but over time as the desire or pressure to pray grows, go with it! If you feel the pressure or desire to give God more time to work, it’s probably the Holy Spirit working and inspiring you to grow in holiness. God wants to radically change our lives. Five minutes a day is something and can start the journey, but be open to more! I think a great goal to work towards is 30 minutes as a high-schooler. The more you give to God, the more God can work.
Prayer helps us to see who God is and what he wants for and from us. He is our Father, and he wants us to know how much he loves us. That’s such a cliché that we’ve heard over and over again, but it’s so true and it’s something that we need to hear over and over again, to be constantly reminded of. The saints understood this in the core of their being, and as we begin to pray, we will begin to understand it as well. If we want to grow spiritually, we must realize that prayer is not an option; it is a great gift that we should accept.