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Why did (and does) Jesus pray? Why do we?



Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 09/06/22

Our idea of prayer is almost always related to a need: I need something, so I pray. Instead, Jesus demonstrates a different way of praying ...
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Today’s readings can be found here.

Two things are particularly striking in today’s Gospel. The first is how Jesus takes time to pray:

“Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.”

Why does Jesus pray? More importantly, why does he pray so long? Our idea of prayer is almost always related to a need: I need something, so I pray. Instead, Jesus demonstrates a different way of praying: cultivating a vital relationship. For until prayer becomes like breathing for us, it’s still only a performance.

This is well understood by those who’ve realized one important thing about life: We’re happy in proportion to the quality of the relationships we build. In fact, the more we feel loved and succeed in loving, the more we feel that life is livable, something we can face, illuminated by a mysterious light.

Jesus invests time in relationships with the people around Him, but He also invests time in that decisive relationship that is with his Father. He devotes time to Him, indeed He devotes his most intimate time to Him, that of the night and that of the times of day that are usually reserved for those we love dearly.

This leads to a big question: Is prayer a duty for us, or a relational investment?

The second aspect of today’s Gospel that catches our attention is this:

“Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.”

Those who pray are mysteriously filled with a power that heals even those around them. This was true for Jesus, but it is also true for each of us.


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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