If at times we feel overwhelmed by how abysmal life is, it may be because we are not making enough room in our life for prayer. For, as St. John Paul II observed, “prayer is the revelation of that abyss which is the heart of the human being—a depth which comes from God and which only God can fill.” We overcome the abysmal by filling the abyss with prayer.
By its very design, prayer is meant to protect us. The Catechism instructs us that “prayer is a battle against the possessive and dominating self” (2730). And the dominating self would act like a runaway train wreaking havoc unless there were something to stop it. Prayer protects us from the worst aspects of ourselves, freeing us to live our true self. “The more deeply I abandon myself to God,” says Servant of God Romano Guardini, “the more completely I let him penetrate my being, the more powerfully he gains authority over me, the more I become myself.”
The priority of prayer in the Christian faith points to an incontestable fact: In order to be myself, I need Someone else. Without prayer, my life quickly becomes fragmented. Don’t forget the Second Law of Thermodynamics: There is a natural tendency of any isolated system to degenerate into a more disordered state. In other words, things always go from order to disorder. What prevents this is some power in place that sustains good order. “The command to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration” (CCC 2114).
In prayer we are provided with a security and fortification otherwise beyond us. “Prayer transforms that part of our life that weighs us down and crushes us, and changes the nature of this poverty. It transforms that need, that deficiency, that poverty into a dependence upon Someone else.”