While Jesus’ whole life was a prayer, he also prayed at fixed intervals during the day and before major decisions.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes the two-fold mystery of Jesus’ prayer, which was formed by his human upbringing, but also part of his being as God.
The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin also learned to pray according to his human heart. He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother, who kept in her heart and meditated upon all the “great things” done by the Almighty. He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. (CCC 2599)
[A]ll his life is a prayer because he is in a constant communion of love with the Father. (Compendium 542)
With this in mind, we can learn from Jesus how to pray.
First of all, as the Catechism explained, Jesus prayed in the synagogue and the Temple. This corresponds to an ancient Jewish practice of praying at least three times a day.
At dusk, dawn, and noon
I will grieve and complain,
and my prayer will be heard. (Psalm 55:18)
Jesus would have been familiar with this custom and likely participated in it.
Furthermore, Jesus would frequently be found praying before a major event or decision.
Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father’s witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father’s plan of love by his Passion. He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter’s confession of him as “the Christ of God,” and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted. Jesus’ prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father. (CCC 2600)
Nighttime prayer was a favorite of Jesus, as can be seen throughout the Gospels, “Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night” (CCC 2602).
Besides trying to incorporate prayer into our own “being,” we should first try to pray at specific intervals during the day, imitating Jesus and his deliberate rhythm of prayer.
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