God at the Center
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well" (Mt 6:33). And "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Mt 6:24). These are two statements of Jesus give us a third reason to develop a stable prayer life - prayer centers our lives on God.
Our lives will only find their full balance and beauty when God is at the center of them. Faithfulness to prayer is what ensures that we give God center place concretely. Without fidelity to prayer, giving priority to God stands little chance of being more than a good intention or even an illusion. Our egos are always seeking to be the center of our lives, instead of the living God. We are battling a large number of different desires, demands, and fears. We have to struggle against our fallen human nature which tends to self-centeredness and pride. If we do enter into the battle against self by prayer, then we will find ourselves slowly detaching from our ego and re-centering our life on God. Everything else falls into place when God is at the center of our lives.
When we are at the center of our lives, we will tend to fall into extremes in our work, relationships, and every other reality. We will fall into coldness and negligence on one hand and dependency and unnecessary anguish on the other. For instance, if God is not at the center of a marriage than it can tend to be a zero-sum game. We want from the other the fulfillment of all our needs and wants. If we do not receive that fulfillment, then we tend to be angry or grow distant and cold. No one in this created world can satisfy all the desires of the heart. It is unfair to ask it of any person. In prayer, we begin to experience a healthy detachment from this false notion and to safeguard our inner freedom. Prayer leads us to freedom of heart - not expecting from others what they cannot possibly give us. Only God can fulfill us completely.
The relationship established in prayer between God and ourselves becomes a foundation of rock in a world of sand (see Mt 7:26). It seems that in the world everything is changing so rapidly that there is no foundation on which to stand. We must seek an interior foundation in God through prayer. Prayer teaches us to sink our roots into God. Jesus tells us to "abide in his love" (Jn 15:9). God is the only one in which we can find strength and security, and this enables us to become firm supporters of those around us.
God is the source of all power. In the times we feel defeated by life, work, or relationships, God is the rock who gives us inner strength to continue to love Him and serve Him. We will all face times of weariness and trial. These are good because they remind us that we are poor and in need of God. In a life of prayer, we can trust that God will give us the strength and power to do His will - to love and serve Him and others. Prayer is essential for God to be the center of our lives. God desires this for us because He wants our good. God fills us with power and strength, becomes our rock in the midst of the storms of life, sets our hearts free to love rightly, and frees us of our selfishness to the extent that He is at the center of our lives, and this occurs through an ever-deepening life of prayer.
I am a Catholic priest writing about Catholic things.
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