Of course, our attitude toward prayer should be patterned after the example of Christ who, in spite of the very hectic schedule he had to follow, always found time and the proper place to do his prayer.
This point can be illustrated in that gospel episode where Christ “departed to the mountain to pray and spent the night in prayer to God.” It was only after praying that Christ chose 12 apostles from among his disciples and went down to continue with his work of preaching and healing. (cfr. Lk 6,12-19)
This gospel episode should somehow tell us that we too should always give priority to prayer no matter how busy we are with our earthly concerns, because only then can we make truly important decisions in our life and follow the will and ways of God, and even share his very own powers.
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 and uniting 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.
When we pray, we are actually assuming the very mind and heart of Christ who is the personification of prayer himself. His life was fully offered to the Father, spending it entirely in obeying the will of the Father who wants us to return to him, since we are his image and likeness that was damaged by our sin.
In other words, we can say that we are truly praying when we would have the same sentiments of Christ. His desires, his mission, his ways of doing things, especially in loving everyone, including the enemies, his willingness to bear all our sins through his suffering and death, would also be ours.
So, if we want to be truly in love and to keep that love burning, we need to be authentic persons of prayer. We need to be like Christ, to be “alter Christus” (another Christ) if not “ipse Christus” (Christ himself). And that is not a fantastic, baseless assertion, because that is what is truly meant for us. There is no other formula for love.
If we really have a good prayer, one where we truly have an intimate encounter with God, we for sure would come out of it burning with zeal for love and concern for the others. Somehow we would catch the fire behind these words of Christ: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Lk 12,49)
Yes, real prayer has that effect. If, on the contrary, we come out of it just thinking of our own selves, or worse, feeling low and dry, then we are not actually praying. Prayer will always sharpen our mindfulness and thoughtfulness of the others.*