Spotlight 7/2024: Abba, Father!

Already as a young Priest, District Apostle Woll from Canada learned that prayer affects our faith. He says that as a child of God we can share all our feelings with God, and that this strengthens our faith.

“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Galatians 4: 6) If God knows what we need and does what is best for us (Matthew 6: 8), then one might ask why we need to pray. The above Bible text points to the answer. Because we are children of God, we have the absolute need to cry out to Him. It is the natural response of being born out of Him. When does one cry out? When we are very sad or happy, and we have no words to express how we feel, we cry out. This means we express, and can indeed share, all our feelings with our dear Father. Nothing is too great or small to bring to God. Even as the Son of Man He maintained His connection and relationship with His Father by continually seeking Him and crying out to Him.

Another important aspect of praying is that prayer is critical for maintaining our faith. The Catechism states: “Faith without prayer is not a living faith” (CNAC 13.1). In addition, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11: 6). Hence prayer sustains our faith, which contributes to our salvation. In other words, prayer is working towards our salvation, “Prayer works!”

I experienced this already forty years ago as a young priest. A guest family had newly immigrated to Canada and did not speak much English. My Apostle Schwarzer, who spoke their language, agreed to come with me to make a family visit. Shortly after that they were sealed. A year later the Apostle came with me again to visit this family. After the visit he said to me, “This family does not pray.” I asked him how he knew that because he didn’t ask them if they prayed. He answered, “Because the small faith they started with has not grown, and without prayer it is not possible to sustain one’s faith.” It was not long after that this family stopped attending the divine services. They still welcomed me when I came to visit and were always friendly over the years but never came back to the divine services.

That is why the figurative image prayer is the “breathing of the soul”. It is both an absolute desire and a necessity in order to remain alive. It sustains faith as breathing sustains life. Therefore, it is wisdom to “pray without ceasing” as Apostle Paul advises in 1 Thessalonians 5: 17. This does not mean we pray every minute like a fanatic, but rather it is the continuous connection of our soul with our heavenly Father.

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