Everyone of us at some time in our lives has struggled with prayer. Even the Apostles turned to Jesus and said. “Lord, teach us to pray.” Lk. 11:1. Jesus responds with the prayer that is universal to all Christians, The Lord’s prayer, or as we as Catholics know it, The Our Father. As we read through the letters of St. Paul and of his missionary journeys recorded in the Acts of the Apostles we see the constant thread of prayer running through the pages of Sacred Scripture.

We are all called to prayer. It is the very lifeblood of our relationship with Jesus. Without prayer we become spiritually impoverished and subject to the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil.

St. Paul can teach us so much concerning prayer as his life was caught up in Christ, and therefore everything he did and said was in response to this deep relationship with Jesus that was nourished by prayer. One of my favorite accounts of St. Paul in prayer can be found in Acts 16: 25. Paul and Silas have been beaten and imprisoned following the deliverance of a young woman from a spirit of divination. We read that, “about midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as their fellow prisoners listened, a severe earthquake suddenly shook the place.

Place yourself in this situation and ask the question. Would I, after being scourged and beaten, thrown into a stinking dungeon, shackled by chains, be praising God with prayer and singing hymns? Or would I be filled with self pity, anger over being falsely imprisoned or saying, " God don't you care about me?" St. Paul and Silas give us an example of faith and absolute trust in God no matter what the circumstances they find themselves in. The result is that not only are they freed from prison, but the jailer and his whole household are converted and Baptized that same night.

St. Paul throughout his letters is constantly praying and interceding for the Churches he has established during his missionary journeys. He truly is a prayer warrior, an intercessor extraordinary.

Just read Ephesians 3:14-21. " That is why I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name; and I pray that he will bestow on you gifts in keeping with the riches of his glory. May he strengthen you inwardly through the working of his Spirit. May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life. Thus you will be able to grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ's love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge, so that you may attain to the fullness of God himself.

To him whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine-to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end. Amen."

He kneels before the Father praying not only with his mind and lips, but with his whole body. He prays that God will bestow on us the gifts we need to serve him effectively. He prays that we will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit. He prays that we will be faithful and filled with love for one another and to know the love that God has for each one of us. Then in joy he lifts his voice, giving glory to God and concluding with the Amen. The affirmation of faith; I believe.

During the remaining months of this year dedicated to St. Paul, let us open the Bible again and prayerfully read these sacred words and prayers of St. Paul so that we too may be strengthened in faith and grow in love for Christ and his Church.

Peter Thompson.

St. Paul, pray for us.