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Anyone intent on living as a sincere and dedicated Christian must take prayer seriously. All the saints had a great conviction about the importance of prayer. A man who is very devoted to Saint Padre Pio and knew him personally told me how important prayer was to this great saint. Shortly before his death, Padre Pio’s superior asked him what he would like to have written on his tombstone. The Padre answered, “Write: ‘Here lies a friar who prayed!’” And pray he did, especially the rosary, from morning until night. It is no wonder he was able to touch so many souls and lead them closer to Jesus and Our Lady.
Lack of prayer, on the other hand, will inevitably bring disastrous consequences for anyone claiming to be a follower of Christ. Without it, the Christian experience will often become shallow and meaningless. Why? Because if someone does not know Jesus Christ personally—a relationship that develops through prayer—then the Mass and all the sacraments will simply deteriorate into empty rituals.
This is why so many young people are turned off by the Mass and fail to appreciate its infinite value. Anyone who works with teenagers has heard the complaint: “I’m not going to Mass. It’s boring! I don’t get anything out of it!” Many of these young people end up leaving the Catholic Church. Some leave for good while others return only after they find Jesus personally in their lives—often through Scripture reading and prayer—and then realize it is the same Jesus who is present in the Mass. As Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen used to say, many people don’t get anything out of Mass because they don’t put anything into it. This includes prayer.
Christians who don’t pray will tend to have their faith experience become nothing more than a search for pious feelings. We don’t want to be Christians who merely feel good; that would be equivalent to a kind of spiritual gluttony. Nor do we want to be Christians who simply look devout; that would amount to nothing more than spiritual hypocrisy.Without prayer, and a steady dose of it, we won’t strive to root out our sins and sinful attachments, nor will we expend any worthwhile efforts to practice the daily virtues, such as patience, trust, kindness, purity and obedience.
The only legitimate conclusion we can arrive at is that not only must we pray regularly but also, in the words of the Gospel, we must “pray always” (Luke 18:1, NRSV). If we need convincing, we have only to look at the example of Our Lord Himself who prayed—and He prayed always. We see this most clearly in the Gospel of Luke because prayer is one of his favorite themes. For example, Saint Luke gives us Our Lady’s beautiful canticle of praise and thanksgiving, the Magnificat (see Luke 1:46–55). In the infancy narratives, he shows us great lives of prayer as reflected in Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of Saint John the Baptist; Simeon, whose life was open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and Anna, the prophetess who spent her days fasting and praying in the temple (Luke 1, 2).
But most of all, Saint Luke frequently stresses the fact that Jesus prayed. He prayed at significant moments in His life, such as His baptism: “Jesus also had been baptized and was praying” (Luke 3:21); and His transfiguration: “He took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered” (Luke 9:28–29).
He spent long periods of time in prayer or went to solitary places to pray. Before Jesus chose the apostles, “he went out into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles” (Luke 6:12–13). Jesus loved solitude: “He would withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5:16, NRSV); “Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him” (Luke 9:18, NRSV).
He had a powerful influence on others not only in terms of his healing or his preaching, but also by his striking example and teaching on how to pray: “He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ And he said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be thy name’” (Luke 11:1–2).
Jesus also prayed in moments of great intensity, such as His agony in the garden:
He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” (Luke 22:39–46, NRSV)
What Did Jesus Pray for?
Much more could be said about the important place prayer had in the life of Jesus as demonstrated in the Gospel of Luke and in the other Gospels as well. Do yourself a favor and read through those passages, letting the Lord’s own example convict you of the necessity to pray always. He did!
by Andrew Apostoli
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After the World Trade Towers went down in New York, Father Apostoli ministered at the morgue set up at Ground Zero. When search teams discovered the body of a police officer or firefighter, an honor guard formed and gathered the body with great reverence. For Father Apostoli, these moments vividly captured the unspoken code of these heroic public servants: “We go in together, we come out together.”
Christians, if they are to have any impact in today’s world, have something of the same code: We fight the good fight, side by side, ready to lay down our lives for one another.
Such heroism doesn’t come naturally. As Walk Humbly With Your God points out, it is in the day-to-day training, in taking the simple steps to holiness, that heroism becomes second nature.
Father Apostoli provides an inspirational guide to conquering our faults, growing in prayer, and acquiring the virtues that enable us to walk with God and live for others
Back to Walk Humbly with Your God (Paperback)
Author description goes here...
Product Type Media Books
Author Andrew Apostoli
Publisher Beacon Publishing
Number of Pages 184
Book Format Paperback
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