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Pray With Your Whole Being

The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corresponds to a requirement of our human nature.  We are body and spirit, and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally.  We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication.  (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2702)  

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In Lent we focus on three common practices: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Our readings from daily Mass on Thursday February 26th speak highly to the first of these Lenten practices. 

We read in the 4th Chapter in the Book of Esther that Queen Esther finds herself in distress. The king of Babylon made a decree that all Jews should be destroyed. King Ahasuerus had no idea that his wife was of Jewish ancestry because her name was not of Jewish origin. After hearing of her husband's plan, Esther, having never abandoned her Jewish faith, finds herself in her chamber lying prostrate in prayer. She inspires her handmaids to do the same. She exhorts to the Lord, with her whole being, to spare His people.

Which takes us to our Gospel wherein Jesus says: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7). This is one of the most quoted texts in the Gospel. Jesus is telling us that the Father is a good parent. As a good parent, He always listens to us; however, also as a good parent, He may not always answer our prayers like we want Him to answer them. To emphasize this point, He says: "Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?" Sometimes as God's children we ask for a stone, but God wants to give us bread. Sometimes we don't know for what to ask. We still need to ask.

At Mass, we experience what we are taught in both our 1st reading and the Gospel: we need to pray with our whole being and we need to be willing to ask for what we need. When we were children, our parents might have taught us how to pray before bed by having us kneel next to our bed. We would then utter a litany of requests to God. This posture of kneeling is but one of many prayer postures we experience at Mass. We sit, stand, kneel, and bow. We also find ourselves praying the perfect prayer, the Our Father, in one of the most ancient forms of prayer posture - the orans. We lift our hands up in complete surrender to God.

We can certainly pray in our hearts. We can pray in our minds. We can pray with our voice. I think when we pray with our whole being, it is almost like placing an exclamation mark on our prayer. It is truly exhorting our heavenly Father to listen to us. Esther's prostration during prayer was a very vulnerable position. She laid out completely in order to surrender to her heavenly Father. May we take her example and when the time comes, surrender to God in prayer with our whole being.