During his public ministry, Jesus constantly availed himself of the power of prayer and never neglected his intimate dialogue with the Father. The more he was immersed in people’s needs, the more he felt the need to return to the Father and the Spirit.
As Pope Francis says, “Jesus immerses himself in his intimacy with the Father, that is, in the Love that every soul thirsts for.” Prayer is the rudder that guides the course of Jesus life and ministry, the fulcrum of everything: he prays at every significant moment.
Pope Francis notes four characteristics of Christian prayer we can learn from Jesus’ example.
1. Prayer has primacy and priority. To go a day without prayer (especially in the morning) is to risk life becoming a bothersome or tedious experience. When we face the day with prayer, the problems of everyday life do not become obstacles, but opportunities: appeals from God to listen to and encounter Him. This is how we find and live our vocation in daily life.
2. To pray consistently and insistently. Jesus’ example teaches a way of prayer that is not just sporadic or momentary. Prayer requires discipline, it is an exercise and spiritual battle, and needs to be part of one’s rule of life. Consistent prayer transforms us, as Pope Francis says, “makes us strong in times of tribulation, gives us the grace to be supported by the One who loves us and always protects us.”
3. God speaks in silence. We do not need to escape the world to pray, but we do need times and places of silence (and retreats!) Every person needs quiet space to cultivate their interior life, to listen to the desires of the heart, to overcome a life that is superficial, agitated, and anxious.
4. Everything comes from God and returns to him. Sometimes we try to believe we are in control, other times we believe we’re a failure. How do we find the balance? Pope Francis answers:
Jesus’ prayer means delivering oneself into the hands of the Father… It is beautiful, when we are agitated, a bit worried, and the Holy Spirit transforms us from within and leads us to this surrendering into the hands of the Father: “Father, let your will be done”.
You are invited to meditate on the prayer of Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane: Luke 22:39-46 or Mark 14: 32-42.
Following Jesus’ example, may we nurture a loving intimacy with his Father, by making prayer the primary desire of each day. With perseverance and silence, we listen to and encounter God and are reminded that everything depends on Him. Jesus alone can grant us true joy and peace.