For long, the disciples had watched with great interest, pondered and liked Jesus’ praying habits. After some time they could not hold it any longer, so they came to him and pleaded ‘Lord, teach us how to pray‚Ķ (Lk11:1). Why does Jesus, Lord and God to whom all authority on earth and in heaven has been given (Mt28:18) has to pray and decide to teach his disciples how to pray? Why does God find it so necessary for us to pray? He says, “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test” (Mt26:41). It is such questions which keep lingering in my mind that has called for this reflection on the prayer life in the seminary and later in a priest’s life.
Christian life is a warfare; it is a battle against the evil one (Eph6:10ff). We have enemies to fight against, a captain to fight for, we have to preserve and maintain what Christ has already won for us. A Prayer from deepest part of your heart is our weapon to fight for our captain Jesus Christ. St. Theresa of Lisieux defines Prayer as a simple look turned towards heaven; it is a cry of recognition and love embracing both trial and joy. It is the rising of one’s mind and heart to God in humility (CCC. 2559). In prayer, we become beggars before God. Prayer is a tool to be used by every Christian in waging war against Satan, which St. Peter identifies in his letter as an enemy prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1Pt5:8-9). He warns us to resist him in faith simply put, by prayer. For the ordained, prayer is obligatory. In the eyes of the people, clerics are official prayers and people count on us to pray with them and for them. “Father/deacon/seminarian religious! Please pray for me is often the request”. People always take us into their confidence, entrusting to us their special intentions. And even if we admit our prayers not being the best, even if we urge people to pray for themselves and not just count on us, even if we confess that they are often far holier than we are, the fact remains that we have a Sacred duty to be the official prayers of our people. It is a duty, which we impose on ourselves willingly before ordination to the diaconate. Therefore, our office in the Church is to pray and probably that is why it is called divine office because it is our duty, our job in the Church to pray daily with and for the Church, we are co-intercessors with Jesus before his father. Negligence to our breviary is usually the first sign that one’s vocation is in danger because prayer is the breath of a cleric and so needs it for survival. Let the divine office be our intimate part in our priestly service. If prayer of the Church and its recitation gives an impression of a burden, a cross that one has to bear, how much more will the consequences of neglecting it be lamentable? The breviary must be our irresistible experience of Jesus at prayer, an experience that the first disciples longed to make their own. Jesus in the Gospel of Mathew (Mt7:7) gives us the procedure on how to pray: He says, “Ask” and it will be given you, “seek” and you will find, “Knock” and the door will be opened. He says Ask; Present your wants to God; ask as a traveler asks the way; Ask and it shall be given you; He does not say it will be lent to you; not sold to you but given you; he gives it to you as a free gift. Seek and you will find, seek as you are seeking for something of value you have lost from your pocket, in seeking, you will find. I assure you, you will not lose your labor, and if you seek and find him you will have all because God is everything; Knock as the one who desires to enter the house escaping from enemies. Remember, in the beginning the door for us to enter in God’s presence was always open. However, Sin has shut the door for us to enter; the sin of pride, wanting to be like God, sin of irresponsibility, but thanks be to God that through Jesus the door has been opened again for us to enter. Ours now is to knock and we enter. Do not ask, seek, or knock once and you go away. No, No! Wait a bit, come back and knock; let all our spiritual life be a life of asking/begging God; a life of seeking; a life of knocking until we encounter with our friend Jesus. We have to be constant and persevere in asking, seeking and knocking. By our prayers, through Penance, Eucharist, in all our spiritual devotions, we are knocking saying, Lord, Lord! -open for us and he will do it. The condition Jesus gives is simple: he requires only our trust in faith (Mk9:23). Jesus says everyone who asks, seeks, and knocks will be answered (Mt7:8). This means that with Jesus there is no segregation based on tribe, sex, status, language or locality. Jesus welcomes you as his special friend, he is always looking for an opportunity to encounter us and whenever we take a step towards him in prayer, he is already there, waiting for you with open arms; Moreover in John’s gospel (Jn6:37) Jesus tells us that he will never reject anybody who comes to him seeking for any favor. Consider the generations of old and see, ask your fathers they will tell you; no one has ever trusted, prayed and persevered in God and has been disappointed (Sir2:10). Abraham trusted and all went well for him (Gen12ff); David cried to God to be forgiven the great sin he had committed and was washed clean (2Sam12:13, Ps51). When Israelites cried, God listened to their cry and answered them (Ex6:5); Anna prayed for a child and was granted a boy child (1Sam1:9-23), Solomon prayed for a special wisdom to decide wisely and got it immediately (1Kg 3:1ff). If God answered their prayers why not ours? A sincere prayer of a righteous person is very powerful (Jam 5:19); and indeed prayer works wonders. It brings about peace; it gives strength to the weak. Prayer heals the sick, it open prisons to free the innocent from chains (Acts5:17-21). Prayer washes us from all stain of sin, it drives a way temptation from us (Mt4:1ff). It brings travelers safely home. Prayer lifts up the fallen. It sustains us to stand firm in trying moments. What can I say what can I leave out; let us trust in prayer, Jesus himself prayed and was victorious (Mk14:35); to him be power and glory forever and eve