St. Paul tells us today that we must do more than pray. We must be persevering in prayer. That means that we must keep on praying, over and over again.
Christopher Wren was a famous English architect. He was called upon to rebuild St. Paul's Cathedral in London. To do that he had to knock down the old building. Instead of taking it down stone by stone, he decided to knock in a whole wall at once and save time. He prepared a huge battering-ram and had the workmen pound the wall with it. They pounded the wall with the battering-ram for an hour and nothing happened. They complained to Christopher Wren that they were wasting time. He said to them, "We are not wasting time, we're really saving time. We have to keep pounding all day." In spite of their grumbling the men kept at the job but nothing seemed to be happening. Then, finally the entire wall fell away from them and they had done a month's work in a day.
By their continual pounding the men were able to knock down a wall. When St, Paul tells us to be persevering in prayer, he means that we must keep pounding on the gates of heaven with the battering-ram of prayer, again and again.
Daniel O'Connell, the great patriot of Ireland, spent years and years fighting for the cause of Catholic freedom. All during that time he kept on praying and praying for the success of his cause. One day his friends saw him walking up and down in the Parliament yard. They said to him, "It is a wonder that you are not inside fighting for the Cause. "He took his hand out of his coat pocket and showed them his rosary and said to them: "I am doing more for Ireland now than you think." When the day of Catholic Emancipation came, O'Connell knew that his persevering prayers had not been in vain.
If you have been praying for something for a long time do not let yourselves get discouraged. A drowning man cries for help more than once. So must you.
The opposite of persevering prayer is the prayer of a man who was caught in a storm at sea. He prayed and said, "O Lord, I haven't bothered You for fifteen years and if You save me from this storm I won't bother You for another fifteen years." That is not persevering prayer. Our Lord wants us to "bother" Him with our prayers. He wants us to ask Him for things. Sometimes, just to see if we really want what we are asking for, He holds back the answer. At times like that we ought to think of St. Paul's words, "Be persevering in prayer."
- Heirs of the Kingdom, Imprimatur 1949 -