"Grace and peace be yours." —1 Thessalonians 1:1 First Thessalonians is probably the earliest book of the New Testament. Therefore, it has special significance. To better understand these words of St. Paul, we must understand his life. Paul described his life in the following way: "...with my many more labors and imprisonments, with far worse beatings and frequent brushes with death. Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes less one; three times I was beaten with rods; I was stoned once, shipwrecked three times; I passed a day and a night on the sea. I traveled continually, endangered by floods, robbers, my own people, the Gentiles; imperiled in the city, in the desert, at sea, by false brothers; enduring labor, hardship, many sleepless nights; in hunger and thirst and frequent fastings, in cold and nakedness. Leaving other sufferings unmentioned, there is that daily tension pressing on me, my anxiety for all the churches" (2 Cor 11:23-28). Paul suffered greatly in his life for Christ. Paul had a very hard life. However, it made him better rather than bitter because he belonged "to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thes 1:1). Despite his extreme sufferings, Paul did not see his life as a series of cruel tragedies but as grace upon grace (see 1 Thes 1:1). When Paul looked at people, especially Christians, he kept thanking God for all of them and remembering them in his prayers (1 Thes 1:2). Although Paul was treated inhumanely, he loved life and people, because he loved Jesus. Live and love accordingly, especially if your life is hard. Prayer: Father, work together all things for the good of those who love You (see Rm 8:28).Promise: "...opening doors before him and leaving the gates unbarred." —Is 45:1Praise: Praise Jesus, the risen Savior and Lord! Praise Jesus, Redeemer, Messiah, and King!
So that we might obtain this life of happiness, he who is true life itself taught us to pray, not in many words as though speaking longer could gain us a hearing. After all, we pray to one who, as the Lord himself tells us, knows what we need before we ask for it.Why in our fear of not praying as we should, do we turn to so many things, to find what we should pray for? Why do we not say instead, in the words of the psalm: I have asked one thing from the Lord, this is what I will seek: to dwell in the Lord's house all the days of my life, to see the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit his temple? There, the days do not come and go in succession, and the beginning of one day does not mean the end of another; all days are one, simultaneously and without end, and the life lived out in these days has itself no end. Why he should ask us to pray, when he knows what we need before we ask him, may perplex us if we do not realise that our Lord and God does not want to know what we want (for he cannot fail to know it), but wants us rather to exercise our desire through our prayers, so that we may be able to receive what he is preparing to give us. His gift is very great indeed, but our capacity is too small and limited to receive it. That is why we are told: Enlarge your desires, do not bear the yoke with unbelievers. The deeper our faith, the stronger our hope, the greater our desire, the larger will be our capacity to receive that gift, which is very great indeed. No eye has seen it; it has no colour. No ear has heard it; it has no sound. It has not entered man's heart; man's heart must enter into it. In this faith, hope and love we pray always with unwearied desire. However, at set times and seasons we also pray to God in words, so that by these signs we may instruct ourselves and mark the progress we have made in our desire, and spur ourselves on to deepen it. The more fervent the desire, the more worthy will be its fruit. When the Apostle tells us: Pray without ceasing, he means this: Desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is nothing if not eternal, and ask it of him who alone is able to give it.