Prayer is a Matter of Life and Death

In July 2007, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote a meditation explaining how prayer is a matter of life and death. The title of the meditation is in fact, “Prayer: A Matter of Life or Death.

“Therefore, Jesus listens to the law and the prophets who spoke to him about his death and resurrection. In his intimate dialogue with the Father, he did not depart from history; he did not flee the mission for which he came into the world, although he knew that to attain glory, he would have to pass through the cross.
On the contrary, Christ enters more deeply into this mission, adhering with all of his being to the Father’s will; he shows us that true prayer consists precisely in uniting our will with that of God. For a Christian, therefore, to pray is not to evade reality and the responsibilities it brings, but rather to fully assume them, trusting in the faithful and inexhaustible love of the Lord.
Through His prayer, Christ enters more deeply into His mission and empties Himself out in love to the Father. His will is perfectly united to that of the Father. Each one of us is called to live united to the will of God. We cannot come to understand and unite ourselves fully to His will if we do not make time each and every day for prayer. Prayer is the very breath we breathe that leads us to a richer and deeper way of living. It is through prayer that we can grow to love God and others. Saints are first and foremost people of prayer.
In the busyness of our days, it can be difficult to set aside times for prayer. Depending on the demands of our vocation, we may only be able to squeeze in 10 minutes a day, but we must faithfully set aside those few minutes. The priesthood, of course, needs to be entirely grounded in prayer in order for priests to live in deep intimacy with God, be fruitful, and to avoid burnout. The same is true for families even though the demands are different. Families quickly fall into disarray without prayer being a central aspect of each day.
Our prayers are meant to center our day on Christ. We begin by offering our day to God, along with all of our prayer intentions, and we should end each day by thanking God for what He’s given to us. We should also end our day mindful of how we have sinned and failed to love Him and others through a nightly examination of conscience. This makes preparation for the Sacrament of Penance easier since our sins will already have been brought to mind daily. As time allows, other forms of prayer can be used through out our day. We should also keep in mind that by living our vocations each day, we can offer our sacrifices up as prayers to the Father in love.
As new seasons blossom within our vocations, we will discover greater time for prayer. The habit of prayer must begin now, however, and not down the path when the kids are grown. The Church’s rich prayer traditions can be molded to fit any vocation. We only need to put in the effort to prioritize it within our day. If we have time for social media or television, then we have time for prayer.
The importance of prayer cannot be overstated. Without a regular prayer life, the soul will whither. We become more susceptible to temptations, sins, and our weaknesses. We can very quickly find ourselves in patterns of sin, including mortal sin, if we abandon regular prayer. Prayer will lead the Christian to a fruitful spiritual life, but without it perils abound. Benedict XVI makes the necessity of prayer clear when he states:
Dear brothers and sisters, prayer is not an accessory or “optional,” but a question of life or death. In fact, only those who pray—in other words, who entrust themselves to God with filial love—can enter eternal life, which is God himself….Let us ask Mary, Mother of the incarnate Word and teacher of the spiritual life, to teach us to pray as her Son did so that our life may be transformed by the light of his presence”.
Pope Benedict XVI
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