[COLUMN] The devil’s attack on prayer

While spending a holy hour one morning last week, I felt a heavy sense of depression. I found myself questioning why I was feeling this way. Typically, during prayer, I would feel elated, consoled, inspired, and strengthened. However, that early morning experience of prayer was different. It was a time of desolation rather than consolation, of dryness rather than joy. This reminded me of a book I read many years ago titled “When the Well Runs Dry” by Fr. Thomas Green, S.J. The book explores various individuals’ experiences of prayer, suggesting that while there may be periods of consolation, there can also be times of desolation. The book encourages those going through a period of desolation in prayer not to be discouraged, but to continue practicing disciplined prayer, as the feeling of desolation is not permanent. One should look forward to the joyful and consoling moments of prayer.

Later on in the week, I further reflected on my recent prayer experience. I realized that there is one entity who does not want me to pray or promote prayer among our people in the parish: the devil. It became clear to me that he was trying to hinder this important vision and mission by attacking me. The period of desolation in prayer last week seemed like an attack from the devil. When someone is diligently cultivating discipline in prayer, the devil will attempt to make that person feel depressed,  unmotivated, and uninspired.

Friends, this challenging prayer experience taught me a valuable lesson – that evil does exist, and Satan can attack us, particularly those who are earnestly growing in their prayer life. To combat Satan, we must invoke the name and authority of Jesus Christ. Jesus vanquished him on the Cross and through His Resurrection, and He will continue to prevail against him in our present age. We should never doubt the power of Jesus Christ in our lives. We need not fear battling Satan and all his tactics because Jesus is always with us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Satan’s desire and mission are to destroy our relationship with God and with others. He seeks to disrupt peace and harmony in our lives, the world, and the Church. His intention is to separate us from God and create division among us. He is the source of malice, anger, hatred, envy, greed, pride, and self-love. He is the prince of lies and deception. This is why the gift of discernment is necessary for us to recognize his deplorable and damaging works in our lives. We must not allow hopelessness and discouragement to influence our lives and relationships with others.

Prayer, along with the support of fellow Christians, serves as our weapons in battling the forces of the devil. It is no surprise that Pope Francis has declared 2024 as a Year of Prayer in preparation for the 2025 Jubilee Year. Our world, our country, and our families are in need of prayers. Pope Francis is calling on the faithful to intensify their prayer lives to prepare for this event of grace and to experience the power of God’s hope. During his remarks after the Angelus on a Sunday, he explained that the Year of Prayer is dedicated to rediscovering the great value and absolute necessity of prayer in personal life, in the life of the Church, and in the world.

Let us respond to Pope Francis’ call by intensifying our prayers and cultivating a disciplined prayer life. May prayer become our powerful weapon in combating the forces of evil that exist both in our lives and in the world.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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