Prayer is lifting one’s heart and mind to God. It is communicating with God.
When we hear that Jesus rose very early in the morning to pray in a deserted place, we might ask “Who is Jesus talking to since he is God?”
We need to remember that Jesus is God, but God is a Holy Trinity, three divine persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is one divine nature, but three divine persons who communicate with one another.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God who prays to God the Father. Jesus Christ is the Son of Mary who taught us to pray with him, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” The Lord’s prayer is the model for all prayers, and Jesus is the perfect example of praying.
Since prayer is communicating with God, and God is the first priority in our life, we should pray to God when we wake up to receive a new day. When we do this, we can hear Jesus speak to our hearts from the last book of the New Testament, The Book of Revela-tion: “I am the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega.”
Praying first thing in the morning acknowledges that God is first in our life, and the giver and sustainer of our life, of our day, and he knows everything that will come our way. Too often we have the temptation to hit the snooze button and try to sleep for an-other 8 minutes. But we could take that time to talk and listen to God who is the source of life, love, courage, family and wisdom – everything we need throughout the day.
We honor God the Father by praying the Lord’s prayer, and we also honor Jesus who taught us that prayer, for he prays that prayer with us. After honoring God the Father and Son, we can honor Mary by praying “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you,” for in our prayer God comes closer to us, he is with us through the help of Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ.
When we pray these vocal prayers, the Our Father and Hail Mary, they are forms of praise since we are calling to mind God and his mighty deeds. There is also the prayer of “adoration” when we listen to God speak to us in the beauty of nature, but more directly when we listen to the word of God in the Bible.
In today’s Gospel, we can see that Jesus prays first thing in the morning before he goes to the other villages to preach and cast out demons. He does this to advance God’s Kingdom, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” If we and the other 1.3 billion Catholics pray that prayer every morning and every night – since Jesus is the beginning and end of our day, and the beginning and end of our life – we would advance God’s Kingdom of life, love, peace and wisdom in our hearts and throughout the world.
Another form of prayer is when Simon Peter communicates to Jesus that his mother-in-law is sick and in need of healing. This form of prayer is generally called supplication, but it is also known as prayer of petition or intercession, which is asking God to sup-ply the grace for those in need.
Unlike Jesus, our prayers are less than perfect, and we often pray in an unfocused manner. However, we see in Simon Peter a very focused prayer when he saw Jesus Christ walking on the water, and he desired to do the same. When he focused on Jesus, Simon Peter was able to walk on water, but when he lost focus on him Simon Peter began to sink into the sea, sink into the distractions of the world.
But Simon Peter does not give up, instead he gives us another form of prayer by calling out with sorrow, “Lord, save me!” This form of prayer is called contrition, because we are sorry for our sins and our lack of faith, hope and love, and we seek to grow these divine virtues with Jesus Christ and his Church.
All the prayers throughout the past week and our prayers during Mass are made perfect by Jesus Christ who is truly God and truly man who never sinned. When we realize this, we cannot help but thank God for saving us, and for sharing with us the plan of salva-tion in Jesus Christ.
The fifth form of prayer is thanksgiving. We give thanks to God because of his presence in the word of God and the seven sacraments, especially in the Eucharistic feast – the Holy Mass. With a prayer of thanksgiving we acknowledge God and his love for us, and we love him in return, but we can only do this perfectly through Jesus Christ.
At every Holy Mass we pray the five different forms of prayer: Praise – especially when we sing; Adoration – when we attentively listen to the Gospel; Contrition – when we pray with sorrow: “Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy”; Thanksgiving – because we acknowledge Jesus as the perfect gift to God and to us; and Supplication – when we ask the Lord to sup-ply us and those in need with his natural and super-natural blessings.
Rising very early, Jesus went off into solitude to pray. After this, he preached and advanced God’s kingdom by overcoming the evil in the world with God’s Love and Truth. We are called to focus on Jesus, and his way of life, and by the power of his holy Name we will be able to advance God’s kingdom. Amen.
Peace in Christ, Fr. McCabe