Wednesday, July 12, 2017
pay me in prayers
Today in A Year with the Church Fathers, we hear from St Jerome. He tells us about translating the book of Tobit into Latin, which he did reluctantly.
But one phrase he said right at the end of his except really stuck with me. He said that he wanted no other payment than the prayers of those for whom he'd done the work. He wanted them to pay him in prayers.
When we read the book of Revelation, we see the prayers of the saints being lifted up in worship, almost as if they were a physical thing. They are either treated AS incense, or are used in the divine worship with incense, as part of the liturgy of heaven. This leads us to the idea that prayers are something precious to God. And we know from today's reading that they were also highly valued by St Jerome.
Today we tend to think of prayer much more flippantly. We have songs that say things like "you'll never get him by wishing and hoping, thinking and praying..." as though praying was just a daydream. Many today, even those who follow Jesus, think of praying as wishful thinking. What we've lost sight of, many of us, is the incredible power of prayer.
Just to clarify, the prayer itself doesn't have power. It's not a magic phrase that causes things in the spiritual world to jump to our command. But prayer connects us with God. And that connection will change everything it touches.
The best thing you can do for someone, including yourself, is to pray for them. Sure, you might find yourself answering your own prayer (God using you to answer it), like if you pray that your friend find a job or a homeless person have food. God might use you to help your friend find that job and He might use you to feed that homeless person. But the prayer is the most important part of the equation. The prayer brings God into the situation in a way that He wasn't before.
Pay me in prayers, St Jerome said. And that's some powerful currency. If you find yourself unable to grasp the power of prayer, ask Him to show you. He'll demonstrate. That's what "taste and see that the Lord is good" means. He doesn't mind showing us, when we ask honestly.
God, thank You for giving us such a powerful currency as prayer. Please help us to live in it.