"Prayer - One of the Greatest Duties of Life"
St. Robert Bellarmine
Brethren, though fasting and prayer go hand in hand, still of the two, prayer is the more important, for while fasting ceases on festivals, prayer becomes more insistent.
And of the two forms of prayer, oral and mental,
the latter is the higher, for by reason of our inconstancy,
oral prayer is always in danger of degenerating into
lip service, whereby men vainly seek to honor God
while their hearts are far from Him. The brief, but
fierce and noisy, thunder-storm is more destructive
than productive, but the silent, steady, gentle downpour
renews the face of the earth.
Nothing is more insisted on in Scripture
than the necessity of prayer: "Let nothing hinder
you from praying always" is the constant cry of the
Holy Spirit. "You that are mindful of the Lord,"
says Isaias, "hold not your peace, nor give Him
silence." "seven times a day I praised the Lord,"
says the man after God's own heart. Christ's frequent
retreats to solitude, and His long vigils on the
mountain side could have had no other object than
to emphasize this truth. "Watch and pray," He
says, and by diverse parables He showed that we
ought to pray always and not to faint, and St. Paul
insists again and again that we should "continue in
supplications and prayers night and day." A prayerful
spirit, in fact, is an essential characteristic of
Christianity, for, says the prophet: "By all the nations
shall My house be called a house of prayer."
Nor will it do to say that for the virtuous to work is
to pray, and that thus they are ever fulfilling this
precept. The parables of the troublesome widow
and the importunate friend at the baker's door show
that real prayer is meant. The true sense, therefore,
is that we must recognize prayer as one of the
greatest duties of life, consecrate to it every day
some time with which lesser concerns should never
be allowed to interfere, and resume it at all times