Liturgical Year C

Second Sunday of Lent; How To Pray In Three Steps

In the last couple of months I’ve started, on a regular basis, to answer the questions that different people sent to me via the website Biti u vezi - (Being connected - Two days ago one woman sent me the following questions: Why does God not respond to her most deep prayer? How must she pray so that He can hear her? Prayer is, indeed, something very personal and is related with our deep desires, feelings, inner wounds and fears. So, there is not one way or kind of prayer, but as many ways as there are people who want to communicate with God. Nevertheless, the question regarding what is good, fruitful prayer is essential for the Christian believer.

But we are living in the world – our Western, materialistic and individualistic world – where most of the people will say that they are interested in spirituality but not in religion. So all kinds of “very spiritual” ways of prayer are available.  A variety of books offer you Zen, yoga and other kinds of meditations, and workshops or groups will teach you how to put your body in perfect balance with nature and yourself. I don’t have anything against these techniques may be able to help you in your prayer. More important, though, is that you know and practice a Christian way of praying.

So, this is the real question: What do we know about our, Christian prayer, anyhow? Who can teach us? Who is the Master of Christian prayer? Who else, then, but Jesus himself. Paradoxically, though, we don’t know much about Jesus’ way of praying, so it’s quite a tricky area. When reading Gospels, then, you must be very attentive to discover Jesus’ way of praying, for instance, when he’s teaching us how to pray, as in the Our Father, or in his most deep prayer in Gethsemane, or on the cross or, finally, in today’s Gospel. The first sentence of today’s Gospel shows us Jesus’ intention – why he and the three apostles go to this mountain – they go to pray. While we might have considered the Transfiguration a remote, mystical event, we can read this text, according to its first sentence, as a one of the best example of Jesus’ way of prayer.

The first step in this way of prayer is to be active. Jesus is talking with Moses and Elijah. So, his way of prayer is not just empty meditation and ecstasies without words.  Rather, he engages in dialogue. It’s important to see that he’s talking with two biblical persons whom we know very well, two of the most important personalities in God’s dialogue with his people during the Old Testament. In our Christian, Catholic way of speaking, they are two major intercessors, two key saints. Modern spirituality tries to show us that we are not need intercessors, that we are advanced enough to communicate directly with God. But, Jesus shows us how important these spiritual companions are, because each shows us a particular way how to find and receive God. Its second step, as Peter’s reactions teach us, that we should not focus on the saints, people who can show us the way to God, rather than on God, himself. Finally, this brings us to the most important step of Jesus’ prayer: to whom he is praying. Luke’s version speaks about “the Chosen one”, but Mark and Mathew both have “This is my Son, the Beloved one.” So, Jesus is praying to the God of love, who chooses us all to be his beloved sons and daughters.

This God of love give us Jesus as a proof of his great love which has saved us through the cross. The time of Lent is an excellent opportunity to pray more and to pray more deeply, to be in touch with this God of love. God’s Spirit of love will teach us how to pray, how to discover our own way of praying which will unite us with Jesus’ way of praying.

23.02.2013.Author: p. Antun Volenik, SJ
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