by Rev. Albert Rung

Writings of Rev. Rung


The most important element in a Catholic's life is prayer.  What food is for the body, that prayer is for the soul.  As the life of the body cannot be sustained without food, so the supernatural life of grace cannot be maintained in the soul without prayer.  St. John Chrysostom, commenting on the importance of prayer for supernatural life, says, that one who does not pray has no life in him; he has ceased to breathe.

Man, being subject to so many frailties, finding himself encompassed by so many enemies and experiencing so many needs both of soul and body, must have continual recourse to prayer to implore God's assistance.  Without prayer we cannot resist temptation, nor obtain God's grace, nor grow and persevere in it.  Christ Himself, tells us: "Without Me you can do nothing": and we enlist His aid by simple, earnest prayer.  Encouraging us to prayer, our blessed Savior says, so lovingly: "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you."  And upon another occasion, He assures us: "Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you."  We may rightfully deduce from our Lord's words that it is easy to obtain God's help in our needs of body and soul, but we must remember at the same time, that it is conditioned upon our asking for it in prayer.  St. Thomas says: "That what God has from all eternity determined to give unto souls, He gives in time, by means and help of prayer."  It comes be sufficiently emphasized, therefore, that we must pray, much and often.  No Catholic can lead a truly spiritual life without prayer.  The concerns and trials of secular life will choke the spirituality of the soul if not kept alive by daily prayer.  Hence St. Paul's admonition "to be instant in prayer," and to "pray without ceasing."

Our blessed Savior shows us y the example of His own life the importance and necessity of prayer.  The evangelists tell us how the entire public life of our Lord was filled with prayer.  All the important works and events of His life were  preceded and accompanied by prayer.  He prepared for His public life by forty days of fasting and prayer.  When performing His gracious miracles, He prefaced them by prayer.  Upon setting out to preach, He would first go into "a desert place and there He prayed."  Before He chose His twelve apostles and preached the sermon on the mount, He spent the preceding night in prayer.  It was only after He had prayed the whole night that He gave promise of the blessed sacrament, the holiest of the sacraments, and when He actually gave this great sacrament to men it was in the act of prayer.  finally, before the culmination of His life's work, He went into the Garden of Olives to pray.  Thus we see Christ's public life crowded with prayer.  St. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, tells us that he chronicled in his gospel, both what Christ did and taught, intimating that we should learn as much from His example as from His words.  Christ's frequent prayer was intended to teach us by example the importance and necessity of prayer.  Wherefore, St., Ambrose says: "If our Lord spent whole nights inn prayer, what ought not we to do to save our souls?"

The saints realized full well the importance and necessity of prayer, hence we find them all preeminently men and women of prayer.  Those following a contemplative life made prayer the principal end and object of their lives, and those engaging in active works of charity did not allow their work to so encroach upon their time as not to allow opportunity for prayer.  All founders of religious orders engaged in active works of charity, formulated the rules of such orders as to allow time and opportunity for prayer.  For just as faith without good works is dead, so also are good works without prayer.  The lives of these great apostles of charity were marvelously interspersed with prayer.  The saints follow closely the example of Christ.

Aside from the clear teaching and example of Christ and His saints, man is led to prayer by the very dictates of his own heart.  There is a natural inclination in the heart of man to pray.  Granted that God is our Creator and our tender Father, it is but natural that we should resort to Him in prayer.  Although we do not see God, faith tells us that He is everywhere present, and hence there is a natural impulse to speak to Him when in need or when swayed by some strong emotion.  This speaking to God is nothing other than prayer.