The Master Prays
The Gospels record many occasions of Jesus
at prayer. From the example the Lord has
given us, we can draw deep insights on the
meaning and practice of prayer.
At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus was deeply
troubled. The death of Lazarus weighed very
heavily on His heart, and He enveloped His
heart with prayer. He gave thanks to His
Father before His prayer was granted, and
He expressed confidence that His prayer would
be heard: "Jesus raised his eyes and
said, 'Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me.'" (John
11.41-42) Indeed, Jesus' prayer was answered,
as Lazarus was brought back to life after
being dead for four days.
In John 17, John the Evangelist has recorded
for us the priestly prayer of Jesus, which
Jesus prayed at the last supper. Jesus glorifies
the Father and intercedes for all people
who have been received in Him so that they
may inherit eternal life: "Now this
is eternal life, that they should know You,
the only true God, and the One whom You sent,
Jesus Christ." (John 17.3) He asks the
Father to consecrate all who believe in Him,
that they may be made perfect in union with
the Father through the Son, and with one
another -- "that the love with which
You loved Me may be in them and I in them."
His priestly prayer follows the pattern of
the Our Father: He honors the Father - "Give
glory to Your Son, so that Your Son may glorify
You" (John 17.1); He honors the Father's
name - "I made known to them Your name
and I will make it known" (John 17.26);
He intercedes for the kingdom to come -"that
the world may know that You sent Me and that
You loved them even as You loved Me"
(John 17.23); that the Father's will be done
- "that they may be brought to perfection
as one" (John 17.23); for their daily
bread - "Holy Father, keep them in Your
name" (John 17.11); for the grace of
forgiveness for all who believe in Him -
"I pray not only for them, but also
for those who will believe in Me through
their word, that they may all be one"
(John 17.21); and He petitions the Father
to "keep them from the evil one"
From the priestly prayer, we learn that the
goal of eternal life is to know the Father
through His Son, in union with Them. He prays
that we may be one with Him in love and be
in covenant with (or 'consecrated to') Him
in the truth through the power of His Spirit.
He prays that we testify to Him in our words
and actions, so that others may believe in
Him and be brought into union with Him and
with each other. He asks us to take courage
in knowing that we are the Father's gift
to Him and that He yearns to have us with
Him for eternity to share His glory. Most
of all, He prays that we may be united with
Him with the very same love that has united
the Father with the Son since the foundation
of the world.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux joined her own prayer
to the Lord's priestly prayer: "I may
use [Your] very own words to draw down favors
from Our Heavenly Father on all who are dear
to me… I dare ask [You] to love those [You
have] given me, even as [You have loved]
me." (Story of a Soul, C.11). We too
can pray with the Master's own words, joining
our prayer to His.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus agonized
deeply with the weight of all the sin of
the world on His heart. He struggled to empty
Himself to the lowest point possible in His
humanity, reaching the deepest humility.
Knowing the full extent of what was to happen,
He prayed with such intensity to accept His
Father's will, that He shed drops of blood
from His immensely stressed being: "Father,
if you are willing, take this cup away from
me; still, not my will but yours be done."
(Luke 22.43). An angel appeared to strengthen
Him. In our trials, if we bring all the angst
of our being into prayer, striving to empty
our hearts of all misgivings and self-pity,
struggling to accept the fullness of God's
will in our lives, then we will be given
the strength to endure whatever is to come.
God is always able to give us the strength
to endure whatever trials befall us.
From the cross, the prayer of Jesus was one
of utter and complete forgiveness of all,
including those who had condemned Him: "Father,
forgive them, they know not what they do."
(Luke 23.34) His last words of His earthly
life were a prayer of complete confidence
in His Father's love, knowing His Father
would not abandon Him: "Jesus cried
out in a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands
I commend my spirit'; and when He had said
this He breathed His last.'" (Luke 23.46)
Following the Lord's example, may prayer
fill the background of each day of our lives,
from moment to moment, until we have breathed
This poem expresses the prayer of the Master
in its fullness.
May We All Be One
He carries all the world's pain
In His heart as He intercedes
For each of us; He will obtain
Redeeming grace - He knows our needs.
"O Father, may they all be one
Made perfect in the love We live;
That as the Father loves the Son,
So may they all love and forgive."
Through Him, the Father hears us pray
With Him, our hearts are formed in
In Him, by faith, our hearts will stay
United -- we will rise above.
O Master, may Your will be done;
In Your love, may we all be One.
Holy Spirit, just as the Son,
Lifted His eyes to the Father,
May we all look to Him as one --
Praying for one another. Amen.
St Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of A Soul
Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs
2598 - 2606, 2741, 2746-2751
(c) Paul Buis, 2005