Personal Contact With God in Prayer

4th Week of Lent: Personal Contact With God in Prayer

By Francis Fernandez-Carvajal

2/27.1 The need for prayer. Jesus’ example.

When he had found a place to pray in ...[1227] There are many passages in the Gospel narrating that Jesus has withdrawn from the crowds and has gone on his own to pray.[1228] And this is more clearly thrown into relief at the more important moments of his public ministry: at his Baptism,[1229] at the election of the Apostles,[1230] on the occasion of the first multiplication of the loaves,[1231] at the Transfiguration,[1232] etc. It was a normal thing for Jesus to do: At times He spent the whole night in an intimate conversation with his Father. The Apostles were filled with love when they saw Christ pray.[1233] How it helps us too!

During this Lenten period we could perhaps concentrate especially on a scene we contemplate in the Rosary: the agony of Jesus in the Garden. Immediately before giving himself in the Passion, the Lord makes for the Garden of Gethsemane with the apostles. Jesus must often have prayed there, for St Luke says: Now He went out, as his custom was, to Mount Olivet.[1234] But this time Jesus’ prayer would be special: the moment for his agony had arrived.

Arriving at Gethsemane He tells them: Pray that you may not enter into temptation.[1235] Before withdrawing a little to pray, Our Lord asks the Apostles too to pray. Jesus knows that they are soon to be subjected to the temptation of scandal on seeing the Master taken captive. He had already announced it at the Last Supper; but now He warns them that unless they are found vigilant and praying, they will not pass the test.

Prayer is indispensable for us, for if we neglect our dealings with God, little by little our spiritual life begins to languish. If you abandon prayer you may at first live on spiritual reserves and, after that, by cheating.[1236] On the other hand, prayer unites us to God and He tells us: Without me you can do nothing.[1237] It is good to pray with perseverance,[1238] never vacillating. We have to speak with Him a great deal, insistently, in the various circumstances of our lives. Now, moreover, during Lent, we walk with Jesus along the Way of the Cross and without prayer, how difficult it is to accompany him.[1239]

With the example of his own life, the Lord teaches us what our fundamental approach has to be: a continuous filial dialogue with God. And mental prayer, in my view, is nothing but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary conversation, with him Who we know loves us.[1240] We have always to try to have presence of God and to contemplate the mysteries of our Faith. This dialogue with God should not be interrupted. But even further, it ought to be carried on in the midst of all our activities. And what is indispensable is that it should be more intense during those periods we dedicate each day to mental prayer: we meditate and we speak in his presence, knowing that He truly sees us and hears us. The need for prayer, together with the importance of charity, is one of the points most stressed by Our Lord in his ministry.

[1227] Luke 11:1-3

[1228] cf Matt 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; etc

[1229] cf Luke 3:21

[1230] cf Luke 6:12

[1231] cf Mark 6:46

[1232] cf Luke 9:29

[1233] St. J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 119

[1234] Luke 22:39

[1235] Luke 22:40

[1236] St. J. Escrivá, Furrow, 445

[1237] John 15:5

[1238] cf Luke 18:1

[1239] St. J. Escrivá, The Way, 89

[1240] St Teresa, Life, 8, 2