Of the numerous entries we received in our recent Faith Solutions Contest, we thought this entry from Michael L. of Illinois was the best. It’s longer than any of the others, but well worth the time and full of good examples and advice for all us at this difficult time.
“Thank you for the opportunity to share with you how the Holy Spirit has led me to a greater prayer life and, consequently, a greater relationship, with God. This is not about the contest. This is about growing in Christ. As we get to know Him better, we love Him more and as we love Him more, we display that love to Him by bringing others to Him.
As the (above) photo shows, I have a prayer corner in my home office. That did not exist at Christmas 2019. In fact, it did not exist until Lent 2020 when we were in lock-down due to the Plague. The forced Fasting from Eucharist in addition to the usual Lenten Fast, created a void in my spiritual life. The civil authorities and our cooperating hierarchy might keep me from Mass and Adoration but they cannot keep me from praying.
In forming the prayer corner, I let the Holy Spirit guide me where to arrange it. Naturally, He led me to the east wall of my office, where I set up the icons you see on either side of the red candle-holder with the Cross on it. So, I am always facing east when I pray to the Lord. I now pray to Him upon arising, usually at 4:30, again at Noon, at 5:00 pm and finally before going to bed. All of the books you see in the picture are books about the faith, the vast majority of which I have read. The ones lying horizontally are up next.
Prayer four times a day! My prayer life before the Plague was scatter-shot and inconsistent. Now, it is more consistent than my meals and more plentiful, too! We can either throw up our hands and surrender at the first sign of trouble or we can go to Him and have Him provide us with what we need to love and serve Him here so we can be happy with Him later. Prayer facilitates all of that.
My improved prayer life has not only improved my relationship with God, it has improved my relationship with my wife; it has improved my relationship with my son and daughter-in-law; it has improved my relationship with my parents and my brother and my friends. Why? Because who can consciously nurture ill-will towards others when he prays four times a day? It would mean not comprehending the very words he uses in speaking to the Lord!
So, you ask what are my Faith Solutions? It is prayer, prayer, prayer and prayer again. The prayer corner is where I sit four times per day talking to my Lord and Savior. I know He hears me and I know He loves me. I know this "sacred ground" in my house created in response to the civil authorities' response to the Plague was what the Holy Spirit wanted from me in order to get closer to Him.
Reading Scripture and books by Augustine, Benedict XVI, St. Therese of Lisieux, Faustina, Chesterton, Belloc, Chrysostom help us know and love God more. I do that now in the corner you see. So, not only do I sit and pray there four times per day, I spend free time reading His word or about Him from men and women holier than I.
Prayer is our holiness at work. Reading is formation which increases our knowledge of God pursuant to which we love Him more and to show Him our love we do what He wants: to love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves; and to go and make disciples of all the nations. We do this when we draw others to Christ through our actions as Christians.
So, the Plague has not been all bad for me at all. It has borne some very sweet fruit, indeed!”