Pray. Nothing else matters.

If you ever want to be holy, to know God, to live His will, then the number one thing that you are going to have to do is pray. PERIOD! Nothing else matters. You cannot begin to find out God’s will or even continue to read this book until you decide that you are going to spend time with God every day.

I cannot stress enough how important this is. Years ago I was preaching at a men’s conference in Pennsylvania and the speaker before me said something like, “Gentlemen, I know that you are busy, but could you at least try to pray every day? You know maybe as you drive to work, just use the bumps of your steering wheel as a bead for saying the rosary and maybe you could try to say maybe a decade of the rosary every day?” I started to get madder and madder the more he spoke because he was telling the men that it is a good idea to pray, but it is so hard so just try to do it. No way!

I was the next speaker and I got up and said, “Gentlemen, you’ve got two choices. You pray every day, or you go to hell.” (Sound familiar? Are you beginning to see a pattern?) This is what I am trying to get across to everyone. Praying is more important than breathing. It is something that we must make a regular habit in our lives. It is not an option, but a command: Pray always (see 1 Thes 5:17).

This is the first thing that has to change in your heart and in your life. For the rest of your life, from this moment forth, you must promise Almighty God that you’re not going to try to pray, but that you will pray. Every day. Period. Nothing is more important than praying. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. So live it.

One more thing. Prayer is the secret of all the saints! As we have seen, they were ordinary people; yes, ORDINARY people who, with all their hearts, strove to seek and live the will of God in their lives. When you look at some of the statues of the saints they look perfect, but saints are not statues. They had good days and bad days. They liked people and didn’t like people. They had ups and downs like all of us, but they kept going. They did not look at themselves, but looked at God and sought His will. I have always defined holiness as “when God’s will and our will become one.” Thus, our number one goal in life must be to live God’s will. We must be like the saints and look at Jesus and His grace and not us and our weaknesses.

Father Larry Richards is a dynamic teacher, preacher, author and retreat master who serves as the pastor of an inner-city parish in Erie, Pennsylvania.

This is an excerpt from “Surrender! The Life-Changing Power of Doing God’s Will.”