Our Prayer: God’s Love for God

“This holy Spirit of Jesus is in us, and he is speaking through us when we pray. Basically prayer means that from the depths of my heart, God speaks to God” – Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, 496

Reread those words.  They probably would not be the first to jump to mind if asked, “What is prayer?”  You and I would probably respond that prayer is speaking with God.  And that is true; but at it’s deepest level, Christian prayer is something that God – God the Son, Christ – is doing within us.

“But Shane, I don’t feel anything like that happening when I pray.”  Well no, you wouldn’t. God is higher than our feelings; he is beyond our powers of detection. We know this truth because, like so many others, it was revealed by Christ to the Apostles and handed down to us through Scripture and Tradition.

Our Gospel is that we have been made sons and daughters in the only Son (Jn 1:12-13; 2 Pet 1:4).  In Baptism we received the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 2:38; Titus 3:4-5), who reproduces Jesus’ prayer within us (Gal 4:6).  St. Paul wrote how it was no longer him who lived, but Christ who lived in him.  And if Christ lives in us, then he prays in us (CCC 2740).

“Prayer” is at the very heart of Jesus’ identity.  From all eternity he is the one who makes a perfect return to the Father of the love that has been lavished upon him … and that love is the Holy Spirit.  When the Son became a man he expressed his relationship to the Father through human thoughts, words, and actions aflame with the Spirit (Lk 10:21).  Jesus’ human prayer was unlike any prayer offered since humanity’s fall. It was not the prayer of fallen man, a creature making requests or giving thanks to its Creator.  Rather, it was the the prayer of a son, the prayer of the Son – gratefully receiving all that he was and had from the Father, and offering himself in turn through the Spirit.  And Jesus joins us to himself in Baptism and sends his Spirit into our hearts so that he might express his love for the Father through our thoughts, words, and actions!

Any stirring we have to prayer is the action of Christ. Granted, when we start out in the spiritual life, we may petition God for some petty items or experiences. Yet, even when our prayer is lacking in substance, the Spirit is mysteriously at work within us, interceding “according to the will of God … with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26-27). And if we will open our ears and eyes to the words and actions he has inspired within the Body of Christ, our outward prayer can become a purer manifestation of the prayer of Jesus himself.

Where should we begin?  The Mass.  The highest point of Jesus’ human prayer was at the Cross, where prayer and his gift of self were one (CCC 2605); and that is what becomes present to us on the altar!  We are meant to join ourselves to Jesus’ prayer and offering: “Through him and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever. Amen.”  The Mass is a school of prayer:

  • we praise and thank God in the words of his angels and saints
  • allow him to speak to us in the inspired words of Scripture
  • confess our faith in God and what he has revealed when we pray the Creed
  • intercede for the needs of the Church and world
  • petition the Father for the same needs that Jesus did at the Last Supper
  • pray the very words that Christ gave us in the Our Father and make a grateful return of the Fathers love by offering ourselves to him in union with Jesus

The Spirit intends for the perfect prayer of Christ that is manifested in the Mass to spill over into our times of personal prayer too.  The Liturgy of the Hours, prayerful reading of Scripture, and the Rosary; devotions such as the Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart Devotion; and practices like fasting and the wearing of scapulars – the Spirit has inspired all of these to bring our daily prayer and lives into union with Jesus’ prayer and offering made present in the Eucharist.  The Church’s liturgical prayer, devotions, and practices bring our minds into conformity with Christ’s, so that even our most spontaneous prayers are manifestations of his heart.

Christian prayer:  God the Son, loving the Father, in the Spirit – through you and me.

 

This article was adapted from Shane Kapler’s book, Through, With, and In Him: The Prayer Life of Jesus and How to Make It Our Own (Angelico Press, 2014).

image: Shutterstock

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  • BillinJax

    Shane,

    This is so beautiful. The joy of personal prayer is something sorely lacking in the lives of most of us. It takes a little undivided attention to seek and simply understand just who and what we are and where we came from in order to appreciate the value and necessity of our prayers.

    There is nothing we can ever do that is better for ourselves and mankind than turning our attention to our Infinite God humbly in thanksgiving,offering our lives and our work and praising him for his. But the problem is that we often without realizing it permit our finite thoughts and activities or work to overcome us by thinking we are or can become anything more than simply a child of the Father we call God.

    We must first realize and accept that being his child is quite enough for anyone. What more could you want than that? For heavens sake,is that not the greatest thing you could imagine, being the offspring of the God of the universe? Once you take the time to put your arms around that truth you can begin to understand just what you are, where you are, and gain control of your thoughts in order to properly direct the life graciously given to you by your FATHER.

    Jesus, the one you call Lord, the one you hope to follow, the one who teaches us, the one who was sent from the Father to redeem us from our confusion and sin first and always acted, taught, prayed and worked …in the name of the Father. The business of His Father was all he ever had on his mind and he could not wait to begin being involved in it even as a child.

    Pray then, as Jesus did, to your Father in heaven seeking his help and guidance as any obedient child would do knowing how much they are loved Be mindful always that the Father gives solutions not as this world would conceive but as His eternal Truth would in justice have it. Trust, as Jesus did, that what you ask and what you seek within the Divine Will of our all knowing and loving Father, in his time and with his wise judgment, shall be granted to you.

    This surrender to Truth will set your heart free in humility and honor to approach the One who loves you. That heart, at ease with our almighty Father, before it even begins to speak will hear his voice saying …”Peace to you my child”… and our burdens are lifted, life and prayer become joy.

  • Shane Kapler

    BillinJax,

    Thank you. You really hit the nail on the head! I will be mulling this over for days to come! God bless you.

  • BillinJax

    I would also add this..

    Do you really think there is a better thing to do with your life than what
    Jesus did with his? It is good that we try to follow the lead of Christ in our
    daily lives giving help to those in need and spreading the message of truth and
    love, mercy and forgiveness. But never ever forget that what he said or did and
    the message he gave was that of the Father through their Holy Spirit. This is
    the same spirit which he sent to his church at Pentecost and through the
    disciples on to us after he returned to the Father.

    Understanding this we, like Christ, recognize it is the Father’s work we
    too must be doing and as such we report to him, we go to him for instruction,
    we ask him for help, and we praise and thank him for our being. How wonderful
    it is to know and be known by the one who Christ addressed as our father (who
    is) in heaven and what power and majesty he possesses and that he knows each
    and every one of us by name and all he asks is that we acknowledge Him for who
    He is. This is the secret that leads us to the joy of personal prayer.

    Through the works he preformed, our master the Teacher came humbly in human
    form into our world with great love to gather and instruct us. He proved to all
    to be God among us as the Spirit had named him at the time of His conception.
    Thus our merciful and almighty God revealed He would humbly go so far as to be
    human…. for our sake. Now, the Spirit of Love at Pentecost comes to the
    disciples, and through them, to all humanity to give us the strength and
    courage to go forth in His name accepting the challenge to do on earth the work
    of the Father …. for His sake.

    Our own spirit, made in the image of our creator, now calls upon our
    humility before the God of the universe, our own Father, to accept the
    relationship and realize we are not alone anymore. We have all the backing we
    will ever need to live our life in peace no matter what the challenges of this
    world sends our way. Know that your ever loving mercifully forgiving always
    available Father is eternally in control.

    It all comes down to this. We have in Christ through the Divine LOVE of the
    Father for mankind the armor for the battle against the Evil One who was able
    in the beginning to convince the first of mankind they were designed to be more
    than the simple beloved children of the living God. The Deceiver, a more
    powerful spirit than man but no match for the creator, proved to be a kidnaper
    of the Fathers children hoping to lie and make all who would join him captives
    of corruption. Jesus, the very Word and Truth of the Father was mercifully sent
    to dispel the lie and reclaim the misguided lost and stolen for Him. All those
    who will believe in Him, regardless of their errors, are welcome to return home
    with Christ to the love and protection of the Father who alone can give eternal
    comfort to their spirit. Those who chose not to believe and reject the love of
    the Father will be lost forever along with the Evil One who despises the Truth.

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