St. John strikes an unusual note in his gospel relative to the incidents leading to Christ’s arrest. The inspired writer put these words down for all posterity to read: “Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place since Jesus “had often met there together with His disciples.” These words give us but a glimpse of our Lord’s habit of prayer. The deep quiet of the Garden of Olives was His oratory. Here the Son of God had been wont to pray. And there were other places, too, which were sacred resorts to Him. There were mountain tops, where He often spent whole nights in communion with His Father.
Our Lord’s example of prayer teaches us that we should spend much time in prayer. Those people who are too busy to pray soon find their spiritual life on the wane. Not feeding their souls, they grow very lean. There can be no beautiful, strong, helpful Christian life without prayer.
Every tree has a root which people cannot see, but which in the secret, in the darkness, performs service for that tree without which the tree cannot live or bear fruit. What the root is to the tree, prayer is to the Christian. Prayer is the mighty weapon wherewith we can combat and put flight to our spiritual foes: the golden key wherewith we may unlock the inexhaustible treasury of the divine Heart and draw from It the graces we need for life’s pilgrimage. It is, moreover, the link which connects heaven with earth, which binds us to God: the mystical ladder Jacob saw, whereby our supplications ascend to Paradise and bring back to us its richest fruits. Prayer has a power, which, if we may so speak, forces the hand of God, an omnipotence which prevails even with the Most High.
Our Lord’s example also teaches us the importance of regular habits of prayer. It was Christ Himself who said that without Him, left to ourselves, we are incapable of taking a single step in the way of salvation: “Without me you can do nothing” ( Jn.15:5). St. Paul tells us that without the assistance of grace we cannot so much as think a thought that is good. And the doctors of the Church teach us that, in the ordinary dealings of Providence, God does not give grace to those who do not ask for it. “Ask,” He says, “and you shall receive.” This is equivalent to saying: “I am always ready to bestow my grace upon you, on condition that you ask Me for it.” Christ prayed for forty days and nights on one occasion; He prayed before working His greatest miracles; He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemani; He prayed on Calvary. What does He do in the tabernacle but plead with His Father for us, to avert the chastisement due the Father, Christ still makes intercession for us, He still is our great Advocate and Mediator.
How much time do you give to prayer? How well do you pray? Ask yourself these questions today and then make a firm resolve to do better. If Christ prayed – you must also pray and you have reason to pray more frequently and more fervently.