THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
GROWING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT: THE MYSTERY OF PRAYER
‘No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit’ (1Cor. 12:3). Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action. – Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2670.
Rev. Fr. John-Mary Benedict Ntol Atep
When we learn to embrace and appreciate prayer as a mystery that is beyond us and we humbly devote time and resources to learn the secret of praying, miracles will become part of our lives. The main Teacher of prayer is the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). One of the essential aspect of God’s relationship with us is prayer. For prayer there is never enough. Little wonder Mahatma Gandhi affirms, “‘I am telling you my own experience,’ ‘and that of my colleagues: we could go for days on end without food; we could not live a single minute without prayer.’ Or, as he said another time, ‘Given the type of life I am leading, if I ceased to pray, I should go mad!’” Because of the indispensability of prayer, the Holy Spirit as a Person has the special role to teach us how to pray, to inspire us to pray and more importantly, He intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26)
In view of the foregoing, we need to return to the Holy Spirit in other to draw from Him the strength to pray and above all to dispose ourselves to be equipped of the language and grammar of prayer. Getting the grammar of prayer from the Holy Spirit will enable us to start prayer by seeking to receive the Holy Spirit first before anything else. Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).
Please permit the sharing of the following observation: There is a trending heresy that is catching up with our Catholics specifically and Christians generally. It is the habit of beginning and ending prayer “In Jesus name” or “In Jesus’ mighty name we pray” or “In Jesus’ name we pray.” It is not just a prayer aberration but the renewal of the Arian heresy of the early centuries of the Church that led to the decisive Council of Nicea 325 AD. This being so, it is a denial of the Trinitarian nature of God who has revealed Himself from the Old Testament and through His Son in the Holy Spirit and in the New Testament as a TRINITY. We need to ask the Lord to teach us to pray (Luke 11:1) especially how to begin and end prayer in the liturgy, prayer meetings, pious societies, family prayer and prayer generally in our Christian life. Please do not tell us that some authority figures are beginning and ending prayer “In Jesus Name.” That everybody is doing something wrong does not qualify it right or correct. Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear about that and so it says, “That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action.” Prayer is a very important action that needs the Holy Spirit from its beginning and end.
Origen (c. 185–c. 253), a Church Father offers us the units of the grammar of prayer: “What we ought” and “as we ought.” According to Origen the textual springboard to understand the two great elements of prayer is “In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings” (Rom. 8:26). “What we ought” is the Words for prayer and “as we ought” is the object of prayer and the inner and outer dispositions.
Come, Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your Love to pray…
You are in my prayer and please pray for me.
- “What we ought” about prayer: Luke 6:28, 10:2, 22:40, Matt. 6:7, 9:38, 24:20, 26:41 and Mark 13:18, 14:38
- “As we ought” to pray: 1Cor. 7:5 and 1Tim. 2:8