II. The Attributes of an Apostle - Prayer

Aneel Aranha  |  Prayer, Spirituality, The Faith  |  Bringing Back Wandering Sheep  | 

A friend of mine recently lost his mother and as I condoled with him, he told me that his greatest fear was that his mother, who was not very close to God, might not have made it to heaven. His words pained my heart and I couldn't help but wonder how many of us have loved ones - mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, spouses and children - who have left the Faith with their eternal fate uncertain. We can help save them while they are alive; but once they are dead our choices are severely limited.

The problem that most of us who care about our loved ones face is how to bring them to the Faith (or back to it). Most people are so full of their own sense of wisdom and understanding, they will not listen to anything we have to say. We can learn a few lessons from St. Francis de Sales, whom I introduced in this column last week as a man who brought 60,000 people back to the Catholic Church! How did he achieve this seemingly impossible feat? Through the attributes of a true apostle, one of which is prayerful dependance on God.

One of the most moving testimonies of the power of prayer can be found in the life of Monica of Hippo, whose son Augustine was severely delinquent. Though raised as a good Catholic, he fell away from the Faith and lived a debauched, hedonistic life. Highly promiscuous, he is known to have fathered at least one illegitimate child. He got caught up in a religious cult and was wayward to the extreme.

When his mother complained to a bishop that Augustine refused to listen to her about God, he suggested that she speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine. It was advice she followed and, as we all know, Augustine ended up becoming one of the world's more famous saints - as did his prayerful mother.

My own life mirrors Augustine's story. For 25 years I lived a Godless life, possibly even more depraved than St. Augustine's, refusing to listen to anybody who preached to me about the existence of God. Finally, God in answer the thousands of prayers made for me by mother, wife, and countless others, brought me to my knees and caused a total change of heart. Today a man who once tore up Bibles, preaches from them to people around the world.

If God can change hard cases like Augustine and me, He can surely work miracles with the less hardhearted in your family. And all the others you care about. The secret is to pray! Prayer allows God's grace to well up within you, flowing out to all those who wish to save.

May the Spirit be with you.

Author : Aneel Aranha is the founder of Holy Spirit Interactive (HSI), recognized as an Association of Faith and Outreach. A renowned international preacher and retreat leader, Aneel has spoken to thousands of people in hundreds of parishes around the world.


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