Go into Your Prayer Room

St. Ambrose Polyptych

Pray especially for the whole body of the Church

(From a treatise on Cain and Abel by Saint Ambrose, bishop)

Offer God a sacrifice of praise and fulfill your vows to the Most High. If you praise God you offer your vow and fulfill the promise you have made. So the Samaritan leper, healed by the Lord’s word of command, gained greater credit than the other nine; he alone returned to Christ, praising God and giving thanks. Jesus said of him: There was no one to come back and thank God except this foreigner. He tells him: Stand up and go on your way, for your faith has made you whole.

Neglect of prayer results in
indifference to prayer.

The Lord Jesus, in his divine wisdom, taught you about the goodness of the Father, who knows how to give good things, so that you might ask for the things that are good from Goodness itself. He urges you to pray earnestly and frequently, not offering long and wearisome prayers, but praying often, and with perseverance. Lengthy prayers are usually filled with empty words, while neglect of prayer results in indifference to prayer.

Again, Christ urges you, when you ask forgiveness for yourself, to be especially generous to others, so that your actions may command your prayer. The Apostle, too, teaches you how to pray: you must avoid anger and contentiousness, so that your prayer may be serene and wholesome. He tells you also that every place is a place of prayer, though our Savior says: Go into your room.

[Your prayer room is] the room that
is within you, the room where you
hide your thoughts, where you keep
your affections.

But by “room” you must understand, not a room enclosed by walls that imprison your body, but the room that is within you, the room where you hide your thoughts, where you keep your affections. This room of prayer is always with you, wherever you are, and it is always a secret room, where only God can see you.

You are told to pray especially for the people, that is, for the whole body, for all its members, the family of your mother the Church; the badge of membership in this body is love for each other. If you pray only for yourself, you pray for yourself alone. If each one prays for himself, he receives less from God’s goodness than the one who prays on behalf of others. But as it is, because each prays for all, all are in fact praying for each one.

The badge of membership
in this body is love
for each other.

To conclude, if you pray only for yourself, you will be praying, as we said, for yourself alone. But if you pray for all, all will pray for you, for you are included in all. In this way there is a great recompense; through the prayers of each individual, the intercession of the whole people is gained for each individual. There is here no pride, but an increase of humility and a richer harvest from prayer.

Catherine's picture

About the author

Catherine is a member of Our Lady of Mercy Lay Carmelite Community. “An apostle must pay with himself for those he wants to win [for Christ].” Divine Intimacy, 326,2

About the author

St. Ambrose (340-397) was Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397. He was born around 340, at Trier, Arles, or Lyons and he died April 4, 397. He was one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and fitly chosen, together with St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Athanasius, to uphold the venerable Chair of the Prince of the Apostles in the tribune of St. Peter’s at Rome.