“Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, 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.” (Mt 14,22-23)
As can be clearly seen in this gospel passage, even Christ had need to pray. As God, we can say that he had no need to pray. As man, of course, he had to. But Christ is one divine person. When he prayed, we have to understand that he prayed both as God and man.
This consideration can only mean that prayer is an essential and indispensable element in God and man who has been created in God’s image and likeness. We need to realize that prayer is an essential and indispensable element in our life. Without prayer, we would actually violate our humanity.
We need to understand that we need prayer more than we need air or water or food. Prayer is what connects us and likens us to God. Prayer is what makes our life a life with God as it should be. We should, therefore, cultivate a life of prayer, making prayer like an instinct, such that whatever we are doing, whatever situation we may be in, we should be praying.
To be sure, prayer can be done anytime, anywhere. Praying is not simply a matter of reciting some vocal prayers or participating in liturgical prayers. It is not only a matter of meditating on some truths of our faith. All of these are very important, of course, and highly recommended. They are the basics to learn if we wish to develop a working life of prayer.
The ultimate prayer is when our very consciousness always has God in Christ through the Holy Spirit as its core. This may be described as contemplative prayer which will have its definitive state in heaven when we see God face to face and when our identification with him becomes perfect. This is when we will have the beatific vision.
We have to understand that it’s when we pray, that is, when we truly pray and not just going through the motions of praying, that we would be engaging ourselves with the most important person in our life, God himself. He is absolutely our everything, without whom nothing and no one has any importance.
It’s when we pray that we manage to relate who we are, what we have, what we do, etc. to our ultimate end which, to be sure, is not something only natural but is also supernatural. Nothing therefore can rival the importance of prayer. In other words, prayer is irreplaceable, unsubstitutable, indispensable. It’s never optional, though it has to be done freely if we want our prayer to be real prayer.
The absolutely important thing that makes prayer real prayer is when we manage to give all our mind and heart to God in whatever thing we do or in whatever situation we may find ourselves in. That’s why St. Paul once said, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5,17) That’s simply because our whole life has to be a prayer, since it is meant to be in constant and intimate relationship with God.
So, even our work and all our earthly concerns can be made into prayer as long as we have the proper motive and frame of mind.*