Praying, living | Inquirer Opinion
Young Blood

Praying, living

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer,” said the Capuchin friar, St. Padre Pio. Indeed, we often burden ourselves with thoughts about our everyday circumstances, failing to realize that all things, whether good or bad, are but passing.

Prayer comes from the Latin “precarius,” which means “obtained by entreaty.” In the Christian sense, it is a conversation with God. Growing up in a staunch Catholic family showed me its power. We are together, literally and figuratively, living without a hint of deep trouble. Call it coincidence, but “a family that prays together stays together.”

Yet, I used to perceive prayer on a limited basis. I was either idealistic or cynical, using prayer as a wishing dump or a hoping stock, thinking that it was an unregulated power source or a mere tradition. Nevertheless, such intercessions never go unanswered. They are just treated with different responses: yes, no, or maybe.

Prayer has many facets and forms. A theology professor at the University of Santo Tomas once gave our class a handout explaining prayer and what makes it effective. It highlights what is called “ACTS,” which stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. These are summed up in the most simple and important prayer, the “Lord’s Prayer” (aka “Our Father”), wherein we glorify God, knowing His will shall always be done, and seek daily spiritual sustenance, forgiveness of sins, and help in our dealings.


Contemplation and focus are essential in the search for a higher purpose. Prayer is longing to know the will of God and asking for the strength to be able to carry it out. The simple act of sitting in the presence of God is prayer. The simple thought of God while walking is prayer. It is the elevation of one’s intuition to the greatest heights. It is meditative as much as it is a difficult task.

Yet, contentions against this way of life seem to disparage its true nature. Self-proclaimed secular humanist Edwin de Leon tackled the subject of prayer and its assumed (in)effectivity in the Philippine setting in a recent Inquirer opinion piece. The Philippines’ history, psychology, and economy are downtrodden by our circumstances, he said. “Have we been praying to the wrong God?” was his headline, citing the Philippines’ brand of Catholicism. Come to think of it, the question is just missing the point. The question shouldn’t be if we are praying to the wrong God, but if we are even praying in the first place. He said that “many Gods have come and gone.” Perhaps to answer his earlier question, we could say that we are praying and worshipping the wrong God, which is what we have made of ourselves.

As a nation, we have become more unethical, lost in the human sense of the word. Sister Mary John Mananzan, an activist nun and former president of St. Scholastica’s College, during this year’s Edsa I commemoration, lamented the “erosion of the Filipino moral fiber.” She cited the misogyny and foul mouth of the Philippines’ top officials, the hatred and disrespect prevalent, the numerous unwarranted killings, and all else that tell of our decline.

De Leon cited similar instances to degrade the efficacy of prayer. But, prayer cannot be downplayed because of facts that indicate our bereft state. That’s counterintuitive. Prayer is not an absolute determinant of whether the Philippines should be a utopia right now. It is not characterized by a person’s whining about our sorry state, but it is an avenue through which we realize the truths in life. More so, it is not a tool to simply get our way with life. De Leon also asked: “Does prayer work?” It does, but in ways we can never fully understand. But, if God wills what we seek, He will grant it, given that we pray sincerely and wholeheartedly. Prayer is never quantified by the hours and repetitions but is always qualified by the grace and mercy of God.


The Catholic Church continues to exhort the faithful to pray for the oppressed, the hungry, the poor, and all who suffer. Many die and are killed because of inevitabilities brought about by the greed, insensitivity, and indifference of some. But, we can’t exchange hate for hate. We must purify our intentions. We must love. We must pray.

Still, prayer isn’t a far cry when all hope is gone. It isn’t a last resort. Prayer should be the start and end of our day, filling all nooks and crannies of our being. As the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escriva, said, we should make our lives a prayer. Prayer is seeing, hearing, breathing, and living the word of God in everything. Indeed, when we understand the necessity of prayer, all else will follow.


Faith is essential in prayer. However, notions that seek to get rid of faith in exchange for reason is prevalent today. This idea was first brought about by modernism, a 20th-century philosophical movement wherein the shift from faith to reason was bannered. The contention of this ideology is myopic, because faith constitutes a sliver of our reason and is what fuels it when all else is considered. Faith goes beyond reason and is not the loss of it, as existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said.

Ora et labora. Prayer and work. The monk St. Benedict reminded us that prayer and work must complement each other for without one there will be no essence in doing either. Moreover, as Escriva said, we must integrate prayer into our lives by thinking, moving, and being in accordance to God’s will. It is doing everything with great love that allows us to be strong in all circumstances.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” the Apostle Paul said in his first letter to the Thessalonians. Prayer is a manifestation of joy. It is what grounds us in the realization that despite our sufferings there is hope.

Prayer is an acknowledgment of what we are. When asked what he was, St. Padre Pio always replied: “I am a friar who prays.” The fact that we pray indicates our need for God, our littleness before Him. It shows one’s humility and awareness of one’s true identity. Even Jesus Christ, God made man, always prayed to the Father for guidance and help in everything. How much more us wretched human beings?

Prayer takes fortitude and discipline. It requires a lucid mind free from all the snares of the world. We pray because we are lacking. We pray because God is everything and He gives us the strength we need every day. When we learn how to pray, we learn how to live, thus becoming what we are meant to be.

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Jose Martin V. Singh, 19, is a devout Catholic and now a creative writing student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

TAGS: Jose Martin V. Singh, Prayer, Young Blood

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