“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)
Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. (Matthew 14-22-23)
The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray. (Luke 5:15-16)
The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:33-35)
In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles. (Luke 6:12-13)
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. (Matthew 26:36-37
I’ve got a question for you. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), how would you rate the importance of prayer in living out your life as a Catholic man of God? Would you give it at least a 6, perhaps even an 8? I have another question. How do you think Jesus would rate the importance of prayer in living out his own life and fulfilling his mission? After all Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, the only begotten Son (John 3:16). Why should he need to pray?
In answering these two questions, let’s look at some Scriptures on prayer. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus made it clear that we all need both public and private prayer. He himself participated in the synagogue services and Jewish religious festivals, and he also explicitly encouraged going to solitary places to pray (Matthew 6:5-6). Jesus often withdrew by himself or with his apostles to pray in some quiet, out-of-the-way place. He prayed to get refreshed after long days of serving others (Matthew 14:22-23; Luke 5:15-16; Mark 1:33-35). He prayed before making important decisions (Luke 6:12-13). And he prayed before enduring the agony of the Cross (Matthew 26:36-37).
If prayer was so important to Jesus, why would we not believe the same for ourselves. This is why Jesus continually encouraged his followers to follow his example of prayer. He knew that it is in these quiet times with Him that we begin to experience the truth behind the saying that “Christlike praying in secret is the secret of Christlike living in public.”
Let’s face it; living in the world — “in public”-has its disadvantages. We can’t help but come into contact with ungodly influences that can distract our minds from God and make it hard to hear the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit. It’s not that the world is hopelessly evil; it’s just that we are fallen human beings who can be all too easily attracted to sin. This is why spending time each day with God in prayer is so important.
When you spend time alone with Jesus, make it your goal to surrender yourself to the Lord as deeply as possible so that he can fill you with his strength and protect you from sin and temptation. Take as your model the following:
The Lord’s Prayer:
“This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. . . .“ (Matthew 6:9-13
Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper:
When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, . . . (John 17:1-26)
Jesus’ self-emptying surrender in the garden of Gethsemane:
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” . . . Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” (Matthew 26:39,42)
As you give glory to God in a similar way, you will come to experience his peace and love in ever-increasing ways, and his grace will transform you to become more and more like him.
We always seek to spend time with people who are important to us. What could be more important than deepening our relationship with Jesus, the lover of our souls and the source of all life and truth? We may need to rearrange our schedules and reorder our priorities, but the reward will be great. We will find nothing short of the secret of Christlike living.
“Jesus, you have called me to be transformed into your image. Give me the conviction that no day is complete until I have come into your presence in prayer-until I have heard your voice calling me, strengthening me, directing me, calming my restlessness, and giving me hope.”
Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.catholicmensresources.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to Servicemen and Prisoners for The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/).
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- 1. After reflecting on the Scriptures and reading the article, how would you answer the two questions posed at the beginning of the article: “On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), how would you rate the importance of prayer in living out your life as a Catholic man of God?” and “How do you think Jesus would rate the importance of prayer in living out his own life and fulfilling his mission?” In what way did the Scriptures referenced affect your answer?
- 2. Do you agree with the article that “spending time each day with God in prayer is so important” because we are “living in the world,” with all its attractions and temptations? Why or why not? Can you give some examples?
- 3. In what ways can the examples used in the article of how Jesus prayed, be models for us on how to pray?
- 4. Do you believe you can deepen your relationship with Jesus through prayer? Why or why not?
- 5. What steps can you take to make prayer an even more important part of how you live your Catholic faith?
- 6. If you are in a men’s group, end your meeting by praying that each of you would be transformed in a deeper way through prayer. Use the prayer at end of the article as the starting point.