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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Prayer's Power

It is time to return to prayer and to believe in the power of God. The power of God defends and holds up human freedom. Prayer is the safeguard of human dignity. The power of God is able to dispel the fog of anxiety and rage that has gripped our communities.

Under a cloud of great social anxiety, we tend to make judgments in accord with a certain mass hysteria and surrender things that we would otherwise never surrender. When cave into such things, it is always at the price of human dignity and freedom. For people of faith, as we experience such societal movements, we must hold fast to the teaching of St. Paul not to conform ourselves "to this age", not to be carried away "by every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness," not occupy oneself with "myths" (see Romans 12:2, Eph. 4:14; and 1 Tim. 1:4).

To hold fast to this teaching, we need God's power. We need prayer. The power of God unleashed in Christian prayer roots the heart in truth. To be rooted in a truth by prayer is radical but when we pray, God does root us in being, goodness and beauty. Before the changing winds of the times, we need this kind of radical. We are not at the mercy of the cunning and crafty when we humble ourselves before God. He protects us from the kinds of social "myths" that gave birth to Gulags and re-education camps. Only God can help his creatures rise above a culture of death. By prayer, He opens the path of life.

Those who are radically with God are not radically ideological, but open to truth. Driven by anxiety and the need for control, the radically ideological cannot admit when they are wrong. Prayer brings repentance. Radical ideology brings hardness of heart.

The radically ideological could be commercial or political or even medical, it does not matter, but self-enchanted with social myth, they strive, even without realizing it, to make an absolute claim over our existence. Because ideologically driven myths see the good, beautiful and true only in terms of a means to an end, they are prone to fail to rise to the true greatness that is at stake. The absolute claim they would make of human life easily robs us of the joy of loving one another and being present to each other as true neighbors.

Whenever we are carried away by ideological claims, we gain a sense of security always at the expense of the truth. When we worship falsehood, truth must be sacrificed on its altar. But with truth, there is peace. With falsehood, anxiety and fear of death.

A soul at peace feels no compulsion to spy on or report his neighbor, but an anxious soul is duty bound to make sure the non-compliant are shamed. Without the truth, I cannot see my neighbor as a child of God but only the "other" who is alien to me or else a co-conspirator who makes me feel validated in my foolishness. Blinded by ideology and social anxiety, I only see obstacles, cogs and sycophants. An obstacle or a cog in the wheel of social progress does not challenge me to love anymore than a sycophant. Only a neighbor can do that.

To see our neighbor in truth, the fog of social anxiety and radical ideology need to be lifted. Only the power of God can dispel falsehood and free the heart to see rightly. Christian prayer accesses this power. A child of God, a real neighbor, does not leave me indifferent but summons sacrifice. Prayer calls down power that allows me to welcome this gift.

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