Prayer is the first resort

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, once wrote that “more things are accomplished by prayer than this world dreams of”. Unfortunately, so many people turn to prayer as a last resort. I would suggest we turn to prayer as a first resort.

One of my favorite prayers is the rosary. Between the tens of the rosary, I add two short additional prayers. A traditional prayer is: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy. I remember hearing this prayer as a child when I was an altar server during the blessing in the 1950s. After the blessing, members of the Holy Name Society, Knights of Columbus, or sodality recited these words during the rosary.

As a priest, I created my own supplemental prayer. Between the tens of the rosary, I pray: “Lord Jesus, that all men be freed from suffering. May everyone be free from fear. May all peoples be filled with peace and joy. May all people be filled with loving kindness. May all peoples come to the fullness of life and love in your kingdom where you live forever and ever.

I always offer the first decade of the Rosary in thanks for all the good things in life. I offer the second decade for everyone who has asked for my prayer or for whom I have promised to pray. The third decade, I pray that God will grant fullness of life to the living and eternal life to the dead. I offer the fourth decade for the poor, the sick, the suffering and all those who have asked for my prayer. The last decade, I pray that all be saved and no one be lost.

Sometimes I pray the rosary while I go down to the basement of the presbytery. I also often pray the Rosary when I drive. I’m obviously focused on driving, but the Rosary seems to create inner peace while I’m driving. There is no wrong way to pray.

Most often we pray in a building, perhaps at home or in church, or from a book or hymn. Formal prayers require us to be in a fixed position. The rosary offers us the possibility of praying as we go along.

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