Prayer is a common theme in the readings this Sunday. We read that that the apostles prayed continuously in the Upper Room. The Upper Room has come to symbolise where we go to rise in prayer, above the defeats, frustrations and anxieties of life. Then in the Gospel, we read that Jesus raised his eyes to heaven. The classic definition of prayer is the raising of the heart and mind to God.
A profound way of putting it is that prayer is the threshold between earth and heaven. Our feet are still planted in the world but with prayer our hearts and minds are elevated to God.
Many people find prayer very difficult. People often talk to me about the challenges of developing a good prayer life. If you do find praying difficult, you’re in good company because even some of the greatest saints did not find praying easy. The writings of St Teresa of Avila, for example, focused on prayer. She wrote that our experience with prayer is a path that we must all follow each in our own way as we make our journey home to God. As with many journeys, the first steps may be filled with challenges and distractions but St Teresa also made it clear that we must never abandon the journey or turn back, but embrace it with humility.
We may be unworthy, still sinning, but we must never flee the light or the Cross of Christ, which is our sure help and support. We must continue to pray as the Spirit directs us, vocally or in quiet, so that Christ may continue to work in us. Without prayer, we cannot have any form of relationship with God, and without a relationship with God, we have nothing. So let us strive to find our Upper Room and when we do, let us pray there continuously with our eyes, hearts and minds raised to heaven.