“Pray/Prayer” – From Latin: precari “ask earnestly, beg”; “obtained by prayer.”

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) – Prayer is a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God (CCC 2558).  Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God…humility is the foundation of prayer for we are all beggars before God (CCC 2559).  Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love to the thirst of the only Son of God (CCC 2561).  It is the heart, in covenant with God, that prays.  If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain (CCC 2562).

Please see the CCC (Part 4 : 2558-2865) for the Church’s beautiful instruction on how to engage in a life of Christian Prayer.

Jesus – Man of Prayer (For more detail on Christ’s prayer life, see CCC 2598-2622).

  • Begins His human prayer life in the womb of the Virgin Mary – One 2nd century tradition tells us that Mary was born to a devout long-childless Jewish couple who presented Mary to be raised as a temple virgin in Jerusalem, a life steeped in prayer and worship.[1] In Mary’s beautiful Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Blessed Mother shows her devotion through her great gift of prayer.  From His conception, Jesus enjoyed Mary’s voice of prayer in the womb.
  • Jesus is immersed in Jewish prayer life as a child – As devout Jews, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the synagogue regularly and to the Temple in Jerusalem every year (Luke 2:41-42).  He learned the “formulas of prayer from His mother” (CCC 2599) and was very familiar with the beautiful Jewish prayer traditions, including the prayerful singing of Psalms.
  • At 12, He goes to the Temple to learn, teach and pray – At the age of 12, Jesus remains at the Temple in Jerusalem for 3 days (Luke 2:41-50).  He sat among the teachers and “all who heard Him were amazed.”  While He was “in His Father’s house”, Jesus would have participated in the worshipful prayer in what Isaiah calls ‘a house of prayer for all nations’ (Isa 56:7).
  • Jesus makes His rich personal prayer life a priority – Jesus prays in solitude (Mark 1:25; Luke 5:16), often in the mountains (Matt 14:23) sometimes through the night (Luke 6:12) and in the early morning (Matt 14:23).  Jesus often directs His eyes upward towards heaven when praying (Matt 14:19; John 17:1).  He uses a variety of forms of prayer including vocal prayer, meditation on the scriptures and contemplation of the Father. “His words and works are the visible manifestation of His prayer life in secret” (CCC 2602).
  • Jesus has an intimate prayer relationship with the Father – Jesus enjoys a direct and personal dialog with the Father, calling Him ‘Abba’.  He speaks to and is heard by the Father (Mark 14:36) and the Father speaks exclusively to Jesus in a direct fashion (Matt 11:27). Sometimes, other’s can hear God’s words to Jesus (Matt 3:17; Mark 9:7).
  • Jesus prays with the Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit descends at Mary’s conception of Jesus (Luke 1:35), the Holy Spirit descends on Him at the Baptism (Luke 3:21), calls Jesus into the wilderness of the Temptation (Luke 4:1) and Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit (John 14:16).  “The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer (CCC 2672).
  • Jesus teaches how He prays with the Our Father – The Our Father contains the essence of Jesus’ personal approach to prayer and teaches the essentials of the Christian prayer life (CCC 2759-2865).
  • His other teachings about prayer reflect Jesus’ own prayer life – The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) and multiple parables teaches about Christ’s own prayer life including the importance of persistence, watchfulness, humility and accepting the Father’s will.
  • Jesus prays before decisive moments in His mission – Jesus prays to the Father prior to major turning points in His life, including: His baptism (Matt 3:16), the selection of the Apostles (Luke 6:12), at Peter’s confession (Luke 9:18), before the miracles of the Feeding of the 5000 (John 6:11) and the raising of Lazarus (John 11:41-42), the Transfiguration (Luke 9:29), during His ‘Hour of Prayer’ (John 17), so that Peter’s faith remains strong (Luke 22:32) and before/during His Passion (Luke 23:34; Matt 27:46; Luke 23:46).

[1] Scott Hahn, Catholic Bible Dictionary (New York, Doubleday, 2009). 584.