Ash Wednesday – Pray Like Jesus

Jesus often went off by himself to pray, arising in the morning before the disciples or going to some solitary place. This setting for prayer is most conducive to reflecting on the mystery of God’s plan unfolding in our lives – as Mary pondered in her heart the events surrounding the birth of her son Jesus (Lk 2; 51). Jesus likewise made use of prayer in solitude to ponder his mission on earth. Thus, after Jesus heard of the death of his forerunner, John the Baptist, he “withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place” (Mt 14; 13), where he could be by himself, and have the peace to enter into prayerful communion with his Father. The, death of John signaled the end of a pre­paration stage now Jesus wanted to be alone with his Father, so that he could contem­plate that lay before him.

The same type of prayer is necessary for us. Being a Christian is not a matter of following a certain set of rules that we can memorize and follow without need for further direction. Being a Christian means primarily entering into a personal relationship with God. Sustaining and nourishing that relationship requires personal contact with God. We must ponder in our hearts the mystery of his presence lives, and discern his will for us. Such prayer is different from exuberant jubilation or lov­ing intercession. Nonetheless, peaceful reflection on the mysteries of our faith is necessary for our growth in faith.

Jesus taught his followers “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6; 6). Jesus was teaching against public ostentation in prayer; he was not teaching that our prayer should be exclusively private. Jesus himself went aside to pray – but he also prayed with the apostles and in their presence. It was because the apostles saw Jesus praying that they asked him to teach them how to pray (Lk 11: 1). And during the last supper, Jesus led the apostles in the prayers and psalms of the Passover (Mk 14; 26), adding his own words to the prayers of thanksgiving over the bread and wine. Thus, for Jesus, prayer was not only to be done in one’s closet in solitude, but also with others.

On Prayer by Father Menard pg 67-68

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