Prayer Is Act of Faith That Brings Us Closer to God
Father Richard Kunst
Why do Catholics pray? Let’s make this a little broader: Why do Christians pray? Why do Muslims and Jews pray? Why do people pray?
The three great monotheistic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam all believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient. That is, he can do all things and he knows all things.
So if God is all knowing and all-powerful, what is the point of our praying to him?
Praying is nothing more than communicating with God.
So what are we trying to communicate to him? Are we trying to tell him something that he doesn’t already know? Are we trying to tell him what we need or what we want? Doesn’t he already know all that stuff?
There are a few Gospel passages that really bring the prayer question into focus and answer all these questions. One of them is the story about blind Bartimaeus from Jericho.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. When he gets there, he will be put to death. On his way, he travels through the ancient city of Jericho, passing by the blind man.
To get Jesus’ attention, Bartimaeus calls out to him. It works. Jesus calls him and the people bring Bartimaeus to Jesus. Then Jesus asks what seems to be a crazy question: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51).
On the face of it, one might be tempted to reply, “With all due respect, Jesus, what do you think a blind guy would ask for?” The ability to see, of course! If I was blind and I had three wishes, I would wish to see all three times just to make sure it would happen.
Why would Jesus have asked Bartimaeus this seemingly no-brainer question? Of course Jesus knew the answer, but he wanted Bartimaeus to ask just the same because by asking the blind man showed his faith.
Bartimaeus never would have asked Jesus if he didn’t believe Jesus could heal him, so the mere fact that he asked to be healed illustrated his faith, allowing Jesus to say to him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you” (Mark 10:54).
This applies to us, too. When we pray, we are not informing God of something he doesn’t already know. God knows everything. Our prayer is an illustration of our faith. If we have a strong belief in God, then we will have a strong prayer life.
One of my favorite quotes is from St. Theresa: “There is but one road which reaches God, and that is prayer; if anyone shows you another, you are being deceived.” I had that quote printed on my ordination cards when I became a priest.
I often tell people that if they do not have a good relationship with God in this life, they cannot expect to have one in the next life. That can be a scary thought. If you don’t have a regular habit of prayer, then get going! It is the most important thing you can do because there is no other reason for which we exist than to be with God in heaven.
Memorized prayers are great, but all too often when we pray prayers like the Our Father or the Hail Mary we tend to not think about what we are saying. I like to encourage people to pray from the heart. Tell God what’s on your mind in your own words. When you are lying in bed at night, tell him how your day went. Ask him for help with something tomorrow. He knows all this stuff, but he wants you to tell him.
Another great quote on the subject comes from St. Josemaria Escriva: “You don’t know how to pray? Put yourself in the presence of God, and as soon as you have said, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray,’ you can be sure you’ve already begun.”
What did blind Bartimaeus do after his prayer of petition was answered? “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way” (Mark 10: 52).
When we are people of faith we pray. When we pray, we follow Christ—even to Calvary.