In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.( Luke 6:12-16)
The flip answer to that question is that if no less than Jesus prayed often and continuously then how could any of us minimize its importance in our lives? But, of course, the answer is that prayer is and should be a healthy part of our daily lives. Why?
Prayer leads to our humility, our detachment and takes us to a deeper appreciation of love. All three lead us to a more complete human being and one closer to His wish for each of us.
The source of Christ’s power already originated within Him, but Jesus received extra strength, grace and support during the solitary times of prayer that he spent with his Father. He didn’t make any major decisions on his own, although he had every right to do so. God the Father guided his decisions, and strengthened him with the grace to accomplish the tasks that lay before him. Jesus Christ, the son of God, humbled himself before God, His Father, and sought His guidance.
Jesus made prayer the first priority in his life. Too often, our ego, our desire to be self-sufficient keep us from prayer. Prayer is often the last thing on our mind when we have a problem, or need to make a decision about something. We work through it on our own, but everything seems so much harder. We often second guess ourselves, wondering if we are really doing the right thing or not?
Detachment? While the distractions of the world may be our reason for prayer, it is the very distractions of the world that fade away when we pray. It is the very nature of prayer that we seek to enter into a conversation with God who is not of this world. We seek guidance from God because He is above this world. We seek guidance from God because he understands how the conditions of this world affect us now and forever. We need God’s grace and His strength, to see us through the challenges and difficulties we face in life. Without God’s grace, our best laid plans could fall apart if it wasn’t His will to begin with. It is better to start laying our plans, in accordance with His will, right from the start, just like Jesus did in today’s gospel.
Right up there with humility and detachment is the effect on our ability to truly love that prayer brings. Again, we turn to Jesus as THE example.
In his joyful moments Jesus thanks God for opening the hearts of people to his word. He is very aware of God working with him in his ministry and he thanks God (Matthew 11:25-27). He grows in that appreciation. We become more loving when we stop to acknowledge the source of all love as the source.
Jesus also prays for forgiveness for those who put him to death. ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.’ We, too, in prayer learn to see God at work in our lives in prayer. In prayer we learn from Jesus’ example to forgive. In forgiving, by definition, we become more loving.
Jesus’ concern and compassion for others also find expression in his prayer. He understands the failures of Peter and prays for him: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail’ (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus final and farewell prayer is for his friends, his disciples. His prayer in John’s Gospel is that they may be one with God and with one another (John /7:11), that they may experience God’s love in this life and the next. We, too, like Jesus do not just say prayers for others. We bring them into God’s presence with us and look at our attitudes towards them in the presence of God.
Jesus prayed because prayer is a factor of our human condition. His Father is the Creator and the Sustainer of all. As a human being, Jesus was, like us, wholly dependent on this God.The prayer of Jesus alerts us to our dependence on and trust in God. And Jesus still continues to pray for us and with us to his Father.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, fill me with gratitude and generosity for all you have done for me. Take my life and all that I have as an offering of love for you, who are my All.”
In our secularist world today dominated by high tech gadgets, news media and social media, Jesus still matters. Because Jesus gives hope, Jesus gives love and Jesus gives salvation. Embrace Jesus more than you embrace this world and let your life become a prayer to Him.