All Work for God Begins with Prayer

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I had a small discussion with one of Public Catholic’s most faithful — and interesting — readers the other day.

I had published this post calling for prayer for persecuted Christians. This particular reader said that we need to do something about this and not just pray. It made me smile when I read that because he’s right: We need to do something.

And we will.

If we pray.

Why would anyone recommend prayer in the face of this onslaught of slaughter? One reason is that the persecuted Christians themselves ask for prayer. Every time I talk to someone who lives in an area where Christians are subjected to violent persecution, I ask them how I can help them. Invariably, they ask for prayer.

Why?

You’d think they’d ask for a rocket launcher, or at least a few grenades.

Why prayer?

I think the answer is that these people are people of faith, just like us, only they no longer carry around the burden of the accoutrements of faith that weigh us down. Every person I have ever talked to who has been through violent persecution for Christ has both a strength and a gentleness that sets them apart.

The things we think are so important have been stripped away from them as they come face to face with the question that we all wonder how we would answer: Will you die for Him?

I think that once a person looks into the reality of that question, not as a hypothetical, but as an actual life or death decision that they are making, they are changed. The fires of persecution seem to burn away the chaff of people’s lives and the ones who persist and do not yield learn what sustains in time of grave peril.

I think that is why they ask for prayer.

That is one reason to pray, because the people we want to help have asked us to pray.

Another reason is because entering into this arena of Christian persecution paints our faces on the devil’s dart board. We will be assailed and attacked, slandered and maligned for speaking out for persecuted Christians. This is the natural course of things when anyone defends God’s children. We need prayer for the strength it gives us as we do this work.

The next reason to pray is because we need direction. Not only that, but we need God to raise up Christians everywhere to fight this plague of violence. We need to pray and pray and let God work.

Prayer is the key to doing God’s will. Not that He is likely to put a burning bush that is not consumed in our paths. But that prayer keeps us in contact with grace. If we want to do something about persecuted Christians — and I hope sincerely that every one who reads this does — begin with prayer. I don’t mean one Rosary or some small bit of jingoistic something you learned as a child. I mean walking with the Lord in prayer day after day after day.

Just pray and wait. If God wants active work from you, you’ll know soon enough. If, on the other hand, He wants you to be a permanent prayer warrior, do that.

I was thrilled with what the reader said that day. Excited. Because I think he’s the kind of person who actually will do something. I do not want to stifle anyone in that. I only ask that in all the doing, we pray and wait on the Lord lead us first.

All work for God begins with prayer. That’s a truth of life in Christ as I know it.

Novena for the Persecuted Church, Day 2

St michael slaying satan

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Rev 12: 17 – 18

This is day 2 of the Novena to St Michael. We are praying for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters around the world.

The important thing here is faithfulness. Just keep praying faithfully and trust God’s faithfulness. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself changing as you pray.

Meditate today on Jesus as he hung helpless on the cross. He was mocked and reviled, even has he hung here, naked and in pain, dying publicly for our sins. In one terrible moment, all our sins — the vicious gossip, the little lies, the adulteries and robberies and acts of petty malice; our genocides and pogroms; the many people we have killed and whose lives we have destroyed in needless wars and for economic gain — all of it rested on Him, and He was like we are; separated and alone in the darkness without God.

He took our forsakenness on Himself on that cross. He endured our leap off the side of the cliff into the self-annihiliation of evil. He became One with us as we are: Lost, sin-sick and doomed to hell. He allowed Himself to experience what we feel every day as the devil’s plaything.

That is what we become when we assent to the evil that we do: The devil’s plaything. We think we are throwing off the fetters of “rules and laws” we no longer agree with and are declaring our independence. It is the garden all over again; our personal fall from grace. What we are choosing is not freedom but pitiless servitude. We become the devil’s own; his instrument for evil instead of God’s instrument for good.

The persecution of Christians is satan, raging at the God Who cast him out of heaven, through us. We are his ultimate “take that!” to God when we destroy one another. When we destroy Christians because they are Christians, we become the means and the instrument by which the devil strikes back at God by crucifying Him again in His followers.

These Christians that I talked about yesterday here, here, here, here, and here are Christ crucified right in front of us.

This novena calls on God’s great warrior who cast satan out of heaven in the first place and who does battle with him for us here on earth to defend God’s persecuted body in this world.

Here is the Novena to St Michael for the Persecuted Church, Day 2. Please pray it and ask others to join you.

Glorious Saint Michael,
guardian and defender
of the Church of Jesus Christ,
come to the assistance of His followers,
against whom the powers of hell are unchained.
Guard with special care our Holy Father,
the Pope, and our bishops, priests,
all our religious and lay people,
and especially the children.

Saint Michael,
watch over us during life,
defend us against the assaults of the demon,
and assist us especially at the hour of death.
Help us achieve the happiness
of beholding God face to face
for all eternity.

Amen.

Saint Michael,
intercede for me with God
in all my necessities,
especially

for the conversion of the world, 
that from pole to pole, 
dateline to dateline, 
all will call out Jesus' name. 

Obtain for me a favourable outcome
in the matter I recommend to you.
Mighty prince of the heavenly host,
and victor over rebellious spirits,
remember me for I am weak and sinful
and so prone to pride and ambition.
Be for me, I pray,
my powerful aid in temptation and difficulty,
and above all do not forsake me
in my last struggle with the powers of evil.

Amen.
 
 
Novena for the Persecuted Church, Day 1


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