Inspired and Blessed by Bob Acebedo
Inspired & Blessed

The Significance of Prayer

Apr 13, 2022, 12:27 AM
Bob Acebedo

Bob Acebedo


With the Holy week at hand, it behooves us to ruminate – or so I thought – on the value and significance of prayer.

Just three days ago, I went on an overnight working trip with OpinYon’s top honchos, father and daughter Ray and Nikki Junia, to Tacloban City. We boarded the plane at early 6 a.m. and we were appraised upon taking off about the rainy weather condition at our destination.

I was seated on the window side, and when the plane started its descent towards Tacloban airport, all I could see were enveloping white clouds and heavy rains smashing on the plane’s window pane, aside from the discomforting turbulence we were intermittently experiencing.

In a short while, as we were approaching the airport for a touchdown and I could already see – though hazily – first the seawater down, then the tip of the runway, I said to myself, “At last, we’ve arrived.”

But, suddenly (!), the plane abruptly ascended again. I muttered queasily, “Oh my God, something must be wrong!”

We were up again in altitude, and we heard the captain’s voice: “Due to bad weather condition and your safety as our utmost consideration, we failed in our touchdown attempt and decided to ascend again. We will make our touchdown again as we are awaiting the advice from the tower.”

Meanwhile, everybody was silent; muttering some prayers, I supposed. I could hear some children crying and disgorging from plane sickness.

For several painstaking minutes, we were circling up in the clouds, silently filled with anxiety and unease. I started reciting some prayers – intercessory and deliverance prayer, then the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father), and also the Hail Mary. As I was silently muttering the lines, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners NOW and at the HOUR OF OUR DEATH,” I suddenly paused and appended a plea, “O Lord, NOT NOW please!”

To make the story short, despite the stormy weather, we were able to land safely at our destination on our third touchdown attempt.

There is no arguing, we can never underestimate the immense power of prayer. Having spent a considerable number of years inside the seminary and almost finishing my erstwhile priestly formation, I can only reminisce, with nostalgic yearning, the spiritually awesome and uplifting prayer moments or exercises we have had.

Prayer, from my Catholic perspective, doesn’t get its value on the quantity or words or repetition of formulas. Rather, as it is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God, its value lies principally on our inner attitude of faith and love of God.

Hence, regardless of what we are praying for, prayer – by itself – is a profound experience of transcendence, of connecting with the divine.

But, are we trying to change God’s will in prayer? My quick answer is: No. Because it would be contrary to sound philosophy and biblical faith. “I the Lord do not change (Mal. 3:6).

God has ordained that certain goods be granted only on the condition that we pray. But this does not mean that prayer changes God’s mind or will. St. Thomas Aquinas aptly teaches: “We pray not that we may change the divine disposition, but that we may ask that which God has disposed to be fulfilled by our prayers: in other words ‘that by asking, men may deserve to receive what Almighty God from eternity has disposed to give,’ as Gregory says (Dial. i,8).”

In their book, titled “Twenty Answers: Prayer,” authors Fr. Hugh Barbour and Fr. Sebastian Walshe contend that:

“A correct understanding of the nature of prayer teaches us that prayer does not change God’s will but accomplishes it. The only wills that are changed are those of the persons praying or being prayed for. Prayer is the most noble of the many created means whereby God accomplishes his will. In his wisdom and providence he has determined that there are many things that will only be brought about by prayer. Prayer is thus an instrument of God’s supreme causality; that is, prayer is a way that God makes things happen with our COOPERATION (underscoring mine). When we pray and are encouraged to do so by God, it is with this awareness.”

That indeed prayer is our powerful armour, Frs. Barbour and Walshe verily affirm:

“Human beings are never so powerful and effective than when they pray. People read self-help books about being effective and successful, but the man of prayer has more power than these. Yet prayer also teaches us humility of heart, as we seek to conform our hearts to the heart of God. By praying we become once again like the ‘little children to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs (Mt. 19:14)’.”

A prayerful Holy Week observance to everyone!

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