Friday, 10 March 2017 08:51

"Prayer can change the world"

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Information, prayer and action are the three pillars of ACN’s mission. Prayer is at the very heart of our mission, as through prayer information becomes Evangelisation and action becomes a Work of God.

Some of the earliest projects of our charity ACN, under its founder, Fr Werenfried van Straaten, were the “Fortresses for God”, monasteries and religious houses built along the line of the old Iron Curtain, whose task was to prepare and facilitate, through prayer, the work of helping the Church in communist Eastern Europe. 

The prayer battle must precede every other battle for justice and peace. Only by winning the battle of prayer can we win all the other battles in the world, including those in our own personal lives. Often we hear it said: “All we can do now is pray.” It is so true! Particularly when, instead of despairing at the situation in our lives and in the world, we summon the courage to pray. But this way of speaking does not do justice to God. For in reality prayer should be not the “ultima ratio” – the last resort – but the “prima ratio”, the very first thing we do.

Prayer can change the world. Prayer brings God back into all our actions – as he will not involve himself without our invitation. Prayer is a powerful force. It can suspend the laws of nature and overcome every obstacle. For it is a participation in the almighty power of God. When we involve ourselves in the course of events through prayer we actually change the relation of cause and effect in the world. For when we intervene in prayer, God’s grace comes into play, transforming the complex interplay of destructive forces. But God does not simply want us to beg him to intervene; rather he wants to give us, through prayer, the dignity of sharing in his divine work.

Prayer does not always come easily – in fact it can be very hard work. But the more we pray, the more we find joy in prayer. St Teresa of Avila teaches us that prayer can be “a simple uplifting of the soul to God, to frequent converse with Him, to an intimate friendship with the One who loves me infinitely”. Those who pray in this way will begin to change in their very being, and in all they do. I cannot pray sincerely for peace and yet do nothing to bring about peace. I cannot pray for the hungry or those who eke out their lives in misery and do nothing to help. “Would it not be folly”, wrote the founder of ACN, “to ask God for graces and yet be unwilling to cooperate with those graces?” Dear friends, today, with your help, we are still helping to build many fortresses for God around the world, many strongholds of prayer. In the contemplative communities especially, the religious Sisters and brothers raise up their hands tirelessly to heaven in prayer like Moses at Rephidim and fight the good fight in prayer for us. May we likewise make space for God in our lives – as he is waiting, 24 hours a day, to hear from us.

My grateful blessing on you all,

Fr Martin Maria Barta, Ecclesiastical Assistant


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Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a foundation of the Holy See, was promoted by Pope Pius XII and founded by P. Werenfried van Straaten in 1947, to pastorally help the Church in need or those suffering persecution throughout the world. It develops more than 5,000 projects per year in more than 140 countries throughout the world including the building or rebuilding of churches, support for vocations, means of transportation, editing of catechetical material and emergency help for the displaced. ACN seeks to promote prayer, inform and be a source of charity for the poor in the Church and those persecuted throughout the world.

Aid to the Church in Need is author and editor of the Blog "Witnesses of Hope", which can be found on the website