Prayer brings you closer to God, or invites God closer to you; whichever way you want to look at it prayer is a good practice to grow in one's relationship with God. Is that, however, all prayer does? Is it all just me and Jesus with other people entering as occasional supportive actors? Or are we called to be united as the single body of Christ? As a happy Catholic, I certainly lean towards the latter and away from the former. As a Catholic Christian, as a 'universal' Christian, I cannot settle for just me and Jesus. To do this would essentially be a sin, the sin of omitting one's obligations to other people in the least, and more likely the sin of pride through the desire to focus on one's self to the detriment of others. So prayer is meant to unite us to one another, as well as unite us with God. In fact, the closer we come to God the closer we should come to one another.
In fact the Catechism of the Catholic Church unites the two rather nicely:
In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Kingdom is "the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity . . . with the whole human spirit." Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him. This communion of life is always possible because, through Baptism, we have already been united with Christ. Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with Christ and extends throughout the Church, which is his Body. Its dimensions are those of Christ's love. (CCC 2565, emphasis added)
It is not too difficult to see how leaving others out of one's prayer life (either by focusing only on one's own needs, or by refusing to ask for prayers and declining prayer intentions) a person can act in a way that is decidedly unchristian. We do not understand this only from sacred tradition but scared scripture as well. Three such examples are listed here:
- Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
- But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)
- All these [in the upper room, the apostles and women and men disciples] were constantly devoting themselves to prayer. (Acts 1:14)
Pride can convince us that we do not need to share our prayer needs with others. We can get stuck on feeling needy, or seeming weak. We can worry more over how we appear to the people close to us rather than reveal who we truly are. If you stop long enough to really think about it, all of us are a walking disaster in one form or another. We all need help, we all have a list of issues and needs that we can share with another, but it just seems so much easier to pretend that we have it all together. It's not easier, it's a lot hard to try and fool each other, ourselves, or God that we're in control - because we're not.
In this season of Lent, you can let go a bit more of that failed attempt to appear self-sufficient and do what Christians do, which is to ask for prayers from another living human being. I've even made it a bit easier for those still getting used to the idea: go here! I cannot count the number of people who have talked about their uneasiness with asking another person to pray for them. Start here, start now. There is no better reminder that we are not alone in the world than the act of praying for one another.
A link to this confidential prayer form is available on the right sidebar at the top of the page. You may bookmark it, share it, whatever you feel called to do to answer the invitation to share prayers and to invite others to do the same.