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prayerA typical response when a man says he is entering a monastery is, “Why would a smart guy like yourself waste your life doing something like that?”

This understandable remark indicates that a man’s worth is determined by his usefulness, and in our sated but not satisfied society “usefulness” is usually determined by the level of his salary.

To pray is to play. In other words, prayer is one of those human activities, like play, like athletics, music or art that is not “useful.”

Prayer is useful however as play, music, art and sport is useful. It opens the person up to a fresh level of humanity and a new dimension of reality.

Prayer opens the mind and heart to the transcendent and engages the capacity in the ordinary person for the eternal. In this sense prayer is extremely useful because through prayer the person’s whole being widens out into new dimensions of reality.

This is where the question “How useful is prayer?” becomes truly interesting because once the mind, heart and soul is opened to that other dimension of reality it also opens to new vistas of creativity, possibility and potential. By opening up the perceptions of reality and widening the heart, soul and mind the person becomes capable of new accomplishments never previously imagined.

A new power is released into that ordinary person’s life enabling him or her to become extraordinary. If you have any doubt about this, then read the lives of the saints. They are evidence of the supernaturally charged capabilities of the human person which are unlocked through prayer.

Prayer then, is “useful” as power line to a battery is useful–not as something useful in itself, but as the conduit for a source of power so that other things might be accomplished.

Prayer is, if you like, the means through which the battery is charged, and the soul sitting in silence might seem useless.

Never think that. Think instead that the person is plugged into the power source so that he might be charged with the grandeur of God and go on to do greater things and become a greater being than anyone can imagine.