Prayer as Conversion

February 28, 1993
Brother John Raymond

	We often speak of prayer as if we have been praying for ages.
 What about the beginner? What about those who have recently turned
 to the Lord? Prayer is a relationship with God not just the words we
 pray to Him. On different occasions Jesus referred to this idea. He
 corrected the Scribes and Pharisees by saying that they only honored
 Him with their lips but that their hearts were far from Him. (Matt.
 15:8) On another occasion Jesus mentioned that one should first be
 reconciled with one's neighbor before offering one's gifts at the
 altar. (Matt. 5:23,24) What does all this mean? It means that one's
 relationship to God in prayer is affected by one's deeds outside of
 prayer. Or to put it in Our Lord's words - "if you love Me keep My
 Commandments." (John 14:15)
	Precisely because prayer is a relationship one must detach
 oneself from sin in order to pray well. The sins most devastating to
 one's prayer life are mortal sins. By these sins one willfully
 offends God and severs the relationship with Him. How can one enter
 into a relationship with someone whom one has willfully hurt? So the
 beginning stage of a prayer life for those with mortal sins must be
 one of repentance. One must, by a good Confession, first repair
 one's relationship with God. One's prayer at this time should be one
 of sincerity to God acknowledging one's area of weakness and asking
 for His help especially when tempted. One should ask others for
 prayers during this time of conversion. God will help to draw one's
 heart away from sin and back toward Himself. Remember the Parable of
 the Prodigal Son? If one humbles oneself before God He will shower
 His consolations upon them.
	Conversion, then, is the beginning of a life of prayer. God
 begins to draw the soul away from sin and to Himself. He does this
 by what is called by spiritual authors - consolations. When one
 prays to God one feels a delight in the senses such as a warm
 feeling, great fervor, visions, etc. These are all candy from God to
 turn one's heart toward Him. It's like showering gifts upon someone
 to attract their attention. The beginner at prayer finds himself
 experiencing greater delight in praying to and serving God than in
 his former sinfulness. Thus, little by little, the person detaches
 himself from sin and begins to cling to God. Serious sins become a
 thing of the past.
	The important thing I wish to express here is to encourage people
 to begin the journey of prayer. Begin with a good Confession and
 then nuture one's soul by reading the Holy Bible, praying the Holy
 Rosary, attending Holy Mass, avoiding occasions of sin - in short,
 make an effort to remain in God's grace. Then, and only then, can
 one begin a journey of prayer, a relationship with God.