Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 1929.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
The most important answer to prayer is God’s inspiration to think the things that are good and His guidance to perform the same. A true prayer is a conference with God. We go to God in prayer for light to see things as they are. We go for guidance that we may perceive and know what we ought to do. We go for power that we may be enabled to fulfill our own direct responsibility. The outcome of the matter concerning which we pray is, from first to last, under God’s direction. It is essential that we should be under His direction also.
To pray in any other spirit or with any other motive is heathen. It would imply the placation of an angry god, the reminding of a forgetful god, the rebuke of a negligent god. Such petitions are as different from Christian prayer as darkness from light.
When the Christian prays he has the sense of being but one cell in a vast organism which pulsates with the prayer energy of his Lord, who ever liveth to make intercession for Him and for all the members of His Mystical Body. He knows that the Great High Priest not only makes intercession for each member but in and through each member. From the Mother of God down through all the ranks of saints and holy souls and on down even to himself, he knows that each has a share in the prayer life of the Advocate and Mediator, of whom he was made a member fn his Baptism. He prays with the consciousness of the Communion of Saints.
So the source and the centre of the Christian’s prayer life is Holy Communion. It is in his Communion that he unites himself with His Lord and shares his life with the Saints. The prayer of one is the prayer of all. The Christian never prays alone.
The most effective act of prayer is to make a Communion with special intention. This means committing ourselves to God and leaving our special needs at the time in His hands. We do not expect and we need not expect a sudden solution of our problems. But what we actually do gain is the union of our minds with God. This will mean that we shall be guided. We gain the union of our wills with God. This will mean that we shall be governed. We gain the union of our hearts with God. This will mean that we shall love the things that He commands.
In this state of Communion we may make our acts of vocal prayer with all simplicity. We may speak to God as freely as we choose. Our words may lack and very likely will lack wisdom. But in speaking we shall gain wisdom. We shall grow up into wisdom if we persevere. After we have finished speaking, we must keep silence while God speaks to us. A period of silent waiting should follow our most vehement petitions. We must be still if we would know that He is God. You remember the story of the old French peasant who was asked, “What do you say when you kneel looking so long at the Tabernacle?” He answered, “I do not say anything. I look at Him and He looks at me.” That is the prayer of simplicity.
It is in this way that the trying of faith is accomplished. We develop the faith that works patience. We develop the fortitude that lets patience have her perfect work. And in our patience we possess our souls.
Affectionately in Our Lord,