How the Transfiguration Should Affect Our Prayer

Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so shall your descendants be…I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.”

God made this promise to old, childless Abram, whose wife, Sara, was also old and physically unable to have children. They had been hoping and praying for a child for many years. Abram believed in God’s promise and acted on it despite his experiences and present condition, “Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.”(Gen 15:6) God would fulfill His promise, making him the father of all the faithful.  

He shows us that the only way that we transcend our experiences in life and present conditions is to believe in God’s promises to us and act on these promises. We become slaves of our experiences and conditions when we do not know or believe in God’s promises or are reluctant to act on them.

St. Paul reminds us that God’s ultimate promise to us is to gather us with Christ eternally and glorify us with Him and like Him, “He will change our lowly body to conform with His glorified body by the power that enables Him also to bring all things into subjection to Himself.”(Phil 3:21) In this life, God does not promise us wealth, health, success, fame, acceptance by others, success, easy life, blissful relationships, etc. He does not promise us favorable conditions or good experiences. These things are contingent. But God assures us of all that we need now to journey into glorious life with the Triune God no matter our present conditions or past experiences.

St. Paul exhorts us, “Stand firm in the Lord,” because God has the power and desire to fulfill His promises to us if only we believe in Him and His promises and act on them always. These promises are made to us in Christ and are fulfilled in Christ, “For all the promises of God find their Yes In Him.”(2Cor 1:20)

If we are going to “stand firm in the Lord,” believing in His promises and acting on them, then we cannot pray anyhow. We cannot let our prayers be determined only by our emotions or needs. Rather, we must begin to pray to Jesus, pray like Jesus, and pray with Him.

The transfigured Christ is on His way to Jerusalem where suffering, pain, abandonment, betrayal, and death await Him. He is not overwhelmed or constrained by the coming painful events but goes with certainty about the Father’s plan in the face of all suffering. He invited the chosen disciples to pray with Him and like Him, “Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray.” This prayer was the main purpose of their journey up Mt Tabor.

We learn from this episode five things that happen to us when we accept Jesus’ invitation at Mt Tabor to pray to Him, like Him and with Him.

Firstly, God reveals His will for us in each moment of our lives. Nomatter how dark and painful our conditions may be, we begin to perceive God’s will for us in them all. Praying like Jesus means that we also listen like Jesus in prayer. Jesus listened to the Father as well as the ones the Father sent to Him, “Moses and Elijah spoke of His exodus that He was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.”

Since the Father commands us to listen to Jesus as Jesus listened to Him, “Listen to Him,” we do not talk all the time in prayer or outside times of prayer. We listen because Jesus is always speaking to us no matter our experiences or situations. And He can speak to us through other persons. Our listening to Him is the first step in allowing Him to lead us in prayer and in life.

Secondly, God gives us the graces to be faithful to Him always. The effect of Jesus’ prayer on Tabor was His resolute will to be faithful to the Father throughout His passion, suffering, and death. We must approach prayer with the sense that Jesus is the only mediator between God and us. He is the one who mediates to us the graces that we need to be faithful to God in all things.

This means that we too must enter into prayer with the ultimate goal of faithfully responding to God’s love for us in each moment. We do not pray like Jesus when we only pray for the sake of feeling consoled, getting answers to the questions of life, or even overcoming or avoiding difficulties.  

Thirdly, we know that God loves us as His children. We are not defined by our experiences, situations, or public opinion, but by God’s love. It is in prayer with Jesus that we too begin to hear the Father’s accepting and affirming words to us, “You are my beloved son/daughter.” The Father’s words to Jesus echoes in us through prayer.

When we pray with Jesus and like Him, we do not succumb to self-pity or self-condemnation in difficult times. We do not doubt God’s presence with us our His love for us in times of unfavorable conditions or experiences.

Fourthly, we are transformed and become more like Jesus. If the clothes of Jesus became “dazzling white” as He prayed, how much more are we to be transformed as we pray with Him and to Him. Don’t we belong to Him more than His clothes do? Surely, we too are to experience transformation too in His presence.  

This means that we focus more on Christ and less on ourselves and our performance in our prayer. We become discouraged when our focus in prayer is on ourselves and not on Jesus. But when we are focused on Him with a readiness to follow Him more closely, we are transformed in heart and mind.

Lastly, we have strong hope in eternal life. Peter begins to sense that being in the presence of the glorified Jesus is worth more than all the pains and sufferings involved in climbing the mountain, “Master, it is good that we are here.” It is a joyful hope and gladness that leads to more service of the Lord, “Let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

As we pray with Him, we too begin to have this deep longing to be with Christ in life and in death. We do not fear the pains and sacrifices involved and we strive to serve Him more faithfully.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what is God’s ultimate promise to each of us that we have gleaned from our personal prayer life, personal experiences, study, and reflection? Do we believe in it and hold on to it even in difficult and painful times? Do we act on it even when it will bring us suffering and pain? When God’s promises seem to fade from our minds and hearts, we are easily overcome by our sins, suffering, pains, evils, and despair.

Let us hold on tenaciously to God’s promises to us, no matter the sufferings, pains, deaths, sin, sickness, troubles, etc. These things may never change or go away. But they cannot take away His promises to us. His promises are always valid and intact because they are made to us and fulfilled for us in the crucified and risen Christ. In Christ alone can we enter into these promises to us, transcend our experiences, and be faithful to God in all times and places

The Eucharist is where God renews and gradually fulfills His promises to us, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise Him on the last day.”(Jn 6:54) In each Eucharist, we pray to Jesus, pray like Him, and pray with Him. It is also in this Eucharist that we have a divine guarantee that God will fulfill all His promises to us no matter our conditions or experiences. We only have to believe in His promises and act on them all the days of our lives.

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!

Image by falco from Pixabay

Avatar photo


Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage