The following reflection on the necessity of prayer was written by St. Bonaventure and is quoted early in St. Peter of Alcántara’s 16th century masterpiece “A Treatise on Prayer and Meditation.” All men striving for holiness would do well to take these words to heart.
If you would suffer patiently the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer.
If you would gain power and strength to overcome the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer.
If you would mortify your will with all its affections and lusts, be a man of prayer.
If you would understand the cunning devices of Satan, and defend yourself against his deceits, be a man of payer.
If you would live joyfully, and with sweetness walk in the path of penitence and sorrow, be a man of prayer.
If you would drive out the troublesome gnats of vain thoughts and cares from your soul, be a man of prayer.
If you would sustain your soul with the richness of devotion, and kept it ever full of good thoughts and desires, be a man of prayer.
If you would strengthen and confirm your heart in the pilgrimage with God, be a man of prayer.
Lastly, if you would root out from your soul every vice and in their place plant the virtues, be a man of prayer, for in this is obtained the unction and grace of the Holy Spirit who teaches all things.
And besides all this, if you would climb to the height of contemplation, and delight in the sweet embraces of the Bridegroom, exercise yourself in prayer, for this is the way by which the soul mounts up to contemplation and to the taste of heavenly things.
You see, then, of how great virtue and power is prayer, and for proof of all that has been said (to say nothing of Holy Scripture) let this now be sufficient assurance that we have seen and heard, and see, day by day, many simple persons who have attained to all these things above mentioned and to others greater, through the exercise of prayer.