Prayer should be your first task

Prayer is again this Sunday the theme of the Gospel of the Mass. Jesus begins the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee by insisting that it is necessary to pray at all times. In his teachings, what the Lord perhaps speaks to us most about - together with faith and charity - is prayer. In many ways the Master wants to tell us that prayer is absolutely necessary for us to follow him and for any work that remains beyond this passing life. At the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope John Paul II declared: "Prayer is for me the first task and the first proclamation; it is the first condition of my service to the Church and to the world". And he added: "every believer too must always consider prayer as the essential and irreplaceable work of his vocation, the opus divinum which precedes - as at the summit of all his living and acting - every task. We know well that fidelity to prayer or its abandonment is the test of the vitality or decadence of religious life, of the apostolate, of Christian fidelity". Without prayer we could not follow Christ in the midst of the world. It is as indispensable to us as food or breathing is to our bodily life. Hence the devil's insistence that Christians abandon or neglect prayer, with excuses that seem noble.

A few days before, JPII recalled that a danger for priests, even zealous ones, "is to immerse themselves so much in the work of the Lord that they forget the Lord of work ".  It is a danger for every Christian, for nothing is worthwhile, not even the most extraordinary apostolate imaginable, if it is done at the expense of our dealings with the Lord, for in the end everything would be sterile. We would have carried out a purely human work, in which, perhaps unconsciously, we would have sought ourselves. The remedy for this danger does not lie in abandoning work or the apostolic task, but in "creating the time to be with the Lord in prayer", which "today as yesterday is indispensable".

Let us examine today whether prayer, daily contact with Jesus, enlivens our work, family life, friendship, apostolate? We well know that everything is different when we have spoken with the Master beforehand. It is there "where the Lord gives light to understand the truths". And without this light, we walk in darkness. With it, we penetrate into the mystery of God and of life.