Prayer is the beginning of a relationship with God. I have always gone to church, but I have not always prayed. I learned the rosary and some other basic prayers as a child, but no one ever told me that prayer was how I would come to know Jesus. When I was little, I prayed an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be before bed, and I continued that long into my teenage years, but I eventually stopped. I still went to Mass and it was very important to me, but I did not have a real relationship with God because I didn’t build one.
God knows me intimately though, and He knew the moment when I would be most receptive to His call. That time came when I was in my thirties and I started attending Mass daily at the invitation of a friend. Prayer became a part of my life again. I found it hard and time-consuming, and I was easily distracted in prayer, but that was okay because I was responding to that familiar voice deep within myself. Although I wasn’t consistently praying, I was trying and that opened the door for Jesus to enter into my life in a new way.
Over the years I have learned what type of prayer I prefer, and what type of prayer I don’t. Some people like novenas and others prefer chaplets and litanies. Some meditate on the scriptures and others get lost in the repetition of prayer itself. We are all different and will fall into what is most comfortable. That is when prayer goes beyond words and starts to affect the heart. Instead of being challenging, prayer now becomes inviting because the heart begins to experience the living God. You begin to feel something inside and it is so different from anything the world can offer. These feelings are foreign but at the same time familiar. The stirring within draws the soul to want more, and the mind seeks to understand what it is that moves the heart so profoundly.
Some people will say don’t go on feelings, but in order for God to get a person’s attention, He uses the senses. At the beginning of a person’s conversion feelings are necessary so that one can start to fall in love with Jesus. It isn’t enough to just know who Jesus is, there has to be some kind of affection for Him, otherwise, He is reduced to a story that is written in a book. But Jesus is not a story and the words written in the bible are not fables, they are the living word of God. Jesus’ words are as alive today as they were when He walked the earth. All a person has to do is open the ears of their heart and they will realize that Jesus is not in some faraway land. He is right here, in this very moment as you are reading these words. He waits for you to notice Him because He wants to intimately share His life with you now.
“This means that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old order has passed away; now all is new!”2 Cor 5:17
After a person comes to have some kind of love for Jesus those feelings, or consolations will come and go. Jesus withdraws those affections so that a person’s love for Him will grow. It encourages the soul to search for Jesus, and that process produces a great longing for Him. This pattern is necessary and will most likely continue throughout a person’s entire life. As a person advances in the spiritual life, their love for God becomes so profound that even though they desire consolations, they are no longer necessary for the person to devote everything to God. It depends on the person as to how long this process takes, or if it even takes place at all. I think that is the most important part of what I am trying to express. The gift of free will gives people the choice to open or close their hearts to God. Whether they are aware of it or not, they either choose the Holy Spirit or another spirit. If they reject God, then they leave themselves open for the enemy to move in and out of their lives as he wishes.
The devil isn’t going to make his presence obvious because he doesn’t want his existence known. He will mock God by taking the good the Lord has given us and distort it for his own purposes, which are always to steal and destroy. If a person is not praying, or has no real devotion to the Lord, then the enemy has already taken hold of them in some way. Because there is no real interaction between them and God, they will blindly follow the enemy. I am not saying they are bad, just unknowingly off track. But for those who know God, they see the work of the enemy in the world and in the lives of those they love. They know that they have the power to intercede for others through prayer and sacrifice. This is the power of God working in and through His people, and the devil can’t touch that. So, if you pray, pray more. And if you don’t begin. Open the door of your heart to God, build a relationship with Him and you will be well on your way to conquering the enemy.