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Paul as model of the christian prayer life and teacher of prayers.


Submitted:Nov 4, 2010    Reads: 142    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


PAUL, THE MAN OF PRAYER
TALK PRESENTED DURING THE PAULINE WEEK OF ST. JUDE'S PARISH
BY REV. FR. MICHAEL UMAMEH
For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes {Answer} in Him {Christ}. For this reason we also utter the Amen {So be it} to God through Him to the glory of God {2Cor 1:20}.
Pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of Prayer and Request. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all Holy Ones (Eph 6:18).
Only in the Spirit through the Son can we return to the God who has moved to us in his Son. For Paul, Prayer is Trinitarian. The Holy Spirit is the spiritual space, the life sustaining presence, in which we are able to be in touch with God and with Christ.
It is our relationship, with the three divine persons that inspires us to pray and elicit answers from God for us. Hence, we who are led by the Spirit (Rom 8:2) are united with Christ as joint heirs (Rom. 8:14). Crying "Abba Fathers" with assurance guaranteed in Christ.
This Trinitarian foundation is central to understanding Pauline teaching on Prayer and allowing his Prayerful life to inspire us and teach us as a Family of God's Children.
WHAT IS PRAYER?
Prayer is the raising up of a humble mind and a contrite heart to a generous God or requesting of good things from God.
For Paul therefore, Prayer is a gift, a covenant a common and above all living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with Holy Spirit, for the good of oneself and the entire creation. It is equally a habit of being in the presence of God and in Communion with him and all those who are called by his name.
In the light of other writings of St. Paul, Prayers is a loving, humble and trusting commitment of intimacy with God in Christ. All want to know is Christ and to Experience the Power of his resurrection (Philip 3:10). It is a watchfulness, being attentive to Him, looking up to God, asking in Jesus' name in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus and the Father have the same Spirit, are one in One Spirit (Phil 1:19) and their spirit guides us moves us (Rom. 8:14) and help us in our Prayer. When we cannot find words to pray well, the Spirit himself expresses Our Prayers in a way beyond words … and the Prayers expressed by the Spirit accord with the mind of God.
Jesus and the Father are One Remaining in Jesus through his Sprit, I remain united with the Father and I can go prayerfully to him as his Child because I have the spirit of his Son.
In Paul, Prayer with this understanding is always, effective, efficacious and productive.
PRAYER IN THE LIFE OF ST. PAUL
Paul himself was not only engaged in Prayers but also spoke of them, as living in the presence of God with the earnest duty of communing with him in Adoration, Praise, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Three aspects of prayer emerges in the life of St. Paul.
1. Prayers for others individually or as a whole.
2. Prayed for Himself and His Missions.
3. Stimulates Others to Pray.
A. PRAYERS FOR OTHERS
Paul sent by God to the People to announce the divine message, will often speak to God in his Prayer for the people, thus continuing his role as an intercessor. For Paul Christians have a responsibility of Pray for and challenge for Pray for others. … And intercede for the Saints according to the will of God (Rom 8:27) Intercession he who prays looks not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others even to the point of praying for those who do him harm. (Phil 2:4).
Pray at all times, be thankful in all Circumstances. This what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus (1Thess 5:17-18). The intercession of Christian has no boundaries;
I urge that Petitions, Prayers, requests, and Thanksgiving be offered to God for all Peoples for kings and all others who are in authority ( ).
Paul besides asking for Prayer for others Prayed for God's intervention in a miraculous way that would bring conversion, increase in faith, guidance, healing and Peace among his new faith community. I remember you in My Prayers (Eph. 1:16) and Every time I pray for you all, I pray with Joy (Phil 1:4).
B. PRAYER FOR HIMSELF
"I was given a painful physical ailment … Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away (2Cor. 12:7-8). Paul most of the times took out time to Pray for his mission and went as far as asking god for relief from the afflictions and infirmities of his life. In his weakness, Prayer was a great support and consolation.
Paul believed that his successes in mission and effectiveness of his work plan were as a result of answered. Prayers thus he could say by the grace of God. I am what I am (1Cor. 15:10). Brothers Pray for us too (1Thess 5:24).
For Paul then God's grace, so richly promised, was made operative and efficient only by Prayer "This prayer is a Spiritual energy which makes way for and brings into factual realization the promises of God. And God's Promises cover all things that pertain to life and godliness, body and soul, time and Eternity. These promises are God's golden, fruits, to be pluched by the hand of Prayer.
He who did not spare his own son but handed him over for us all, How will he not freely give us everything else? (Rom. 8:32).
C. PAUL STIMULATES OTHERS TO PRAY
The importance of Paul attaches to Prayer in the Peoples life sequestrates its place in his mind as well. In his missions, in his letters, and request he stimulated prayer in others his teaching and Preaching were invitation to Prayer, to Worship, repentance or be sustained in goodness.
It is my wish, then, that in every place men should Pray, lifting up holy hands with one accord (1Tim 2:8). Persevere in Prayer (Col. 4:2). Pray at all times (1Thess. 5:16-17). Ask God to bless those who persecute you (Rom. 12:14).
For Paul then, One of the marks of a mature Christian is the habitual life of Prayer. Paul's exemplary life of Prayers became a model and an action inviting imitation for the people to join in Prayers. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the Prisoners listened. (Acts 16:25). At other point Paul himself led others at Prayers …. He knelt down and prayed with them (Acts 20:36).
Prayer is so clearly important in the life and ministry of Paul, that his preaching, example and exhortations stimulate others to pray.
All the classic types of Prayers where used by Paul: Praise, Thanksgiving (1Thess. 1:3-4).
Benedictional Confessions (2Cor. 1:3-7).
Intercessory-Petitions (1Thess. 3:11-13), request for the Miraculous; for Guidance, Faith, Success and Discernment.
Paul was so aware of the human imitation that He asks all to depend on God wholly.
CHARACTERSTICS OF PAUL'S PRAYERS
1. Spontaneous.
2. Personal expression and seasoned phrases.
3. Apostolic Prayers and Benedictions.
THREE CONDITIONS FOR EFFICACIOUS PRAYER
1. Prayer must be made in faith.
2. Prayer must be true and sincere.
Prayer must conform with life; we imitate what they contain and obtain what it promise".
3. Fasting and Penance (Reconciliation)
We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2Cor. 5:20).
CONCLUSION
In marking the beginning of the Year of St. Paul and St. Jude's Parish Week with St. Paul, let us be inspired by the Example of the Prayer life of St. Paul and when we find difficulties in our Prayers, as we will, may His Prayer assist us.
Paul was a great intercessor, a man of Prayer, who Prayed taught how to pray and motivated others to Pray and God moved. During his life he maintained this balance between his word addressed to men and his word addressed to God.
In our time we are not only being called to be people of Prayer but to be a people seen Praying.
May God and His Church find you afire with God in Prayer Amen.
REFERENCES
1. E.M. Bounds; Answered Prayer, Whitaler House, USA 1994
2. Robert Faricy; Praying; SCM Press Ltd. London, 1979.
3. Sr. Ann Shields: Pray and Never Lose Heart; Servant Books OHIO, 2001.
4. Walter Vogels, W.F: The Prophet, A Man of God Camelite Center of Spirituality. Dublin, 1982.
5. Catechism of the Catholic Church.




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