“The most potent and acceptable prayer is the prayer that leaves the best effects. I don’t mean it must immediately fill the soul with desire . . . The best effects [are] those that are followed up by actions—–when the soul not only desires the honor of God, but really strives for it. “
—-Teresa of Avila
Prayer must be more than offering to God your requests for actions you wish Him to take on your behalf. Teresa says ” potent” prayer effects actions that are taken by you. Whether this is the reversal of a bad habit or the beginning of a new form of ministry, the action is yours to take. God wants His people to be people of prayer and actions that make their prayers effective. He provides us with the ability to recognize the results.
“If, then, you sometimes fall, do not lose heart, or cease striving to make progress, for even out of your fall God will bring good, just as a man selling an antidote will drink poison before he takes it in order to prove its power.”
~ Teresa of Avila ~
Malcolm Muggeridge was a great English writer who became a committed Christian later in life. He tells the story that he became Christian because of the life, the presence, and the ministry of Mother Teresa. He wrote a book about Mother Teresa entitled Something Beautiful for God. In that book he tells about the time when he first met her and visited Calcutta in the late 1930’s. This is what he said. “I walked through the streets of the poverty of that city, poverty beyond belief. I kept walking, experiencing that until I became physically ill. I ran away, I went back to my comfortable hotel room and took a stiff shot of whiskey to expiate the wretchedness of my experience.”
Later he discovered Mother Teresa walked the same streets and went into the same places he visited some years before. He said, “The difference — I ran away, but Mother Teresa crossed the line. She stayed, and healing took place.” He saw that her compassion for others came from a source that eluded him. To his surprise that source was her faith in Christ and His ability to change the heart of any man. With that realization he came to a transformative experience with Christ.
Many of us are professing Christians who are missing something. The missing link in the walk of many who profess Christ is a true compassion for the unlovable. Our western society is not compassionate by nature, but Jesus is. He sets the bar of compassion by eating with sinners, touching the untouchable, healing the outcast, and most importantly, giving Himself for the sins of all humankind. We can all learn from Muggeridge’ s experience and see life through that lens of compassion. When we do, things become so much more beautiful.
“Vocal prayer . . . must be accompanied by reflection. A prayer in which a person is not aware of Whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is
asking and of Whom, I don’t call prayer—–however much the lips may move.”
“Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”
—–Teresa of Avila
Teresa of Avila was a Carmelite nun, a mystic, and promoter of mental prayer. She knew the importance of being still in the presence of God. Teresa sensed the church of her day was talking without listening. Perhaps we should take a good look at the prayer practices of our day. Are we listening to God. Do we pray to God or pray at Him? The concept in Teresa’s words stress the importance of becoming intimate with God by giving Him your undivided attention. Attention that is not crowded out by our own words that interfere with His presence. Ultimately the goal of every Christian is to become a close friend of God. This is accomplished by quiet, intimate times that focus on Him and Him alone.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta has these words on the wall of her orphanage. They are derived from the paradoxical commandments of Kent Keith. They were a new discovery to me. I hope you enjoy them.
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered,
LOVE THEM ANYWAY
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies,
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,
People really need help but may attack you if you help them,
HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth,
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.
- Paradoxical Commandments (raleighwrites.wordpress.com)
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
–― Mother Teresa