Jesus said that he knew where he came from and where he was going.

This is what we all want to know. Not only about Jesus, but about our own lives. We want to know who we are, why we are here, and what is the purpose of our lives.

We find the answers about our own lives by looking at Jesus’ life. That is why this Lent I have been reflecting on the example of Jesus in the Gospel.

We are now nearing the end of our Lenten journey. This Sunday begins Holy Week. Looking back at my reflections in these columns during Lent, I have been sketching the outlines of the humanity of Jesus. In these columns, we see that he is humble and merciful, with a zeal for saving souls; he has a servant’s heart and the love of a friend.

This week, I want to reflect on Jesus as a man of prayer.

In the Gospels, we see that Jesus often went away to a place where he was alone to pray.

We see that he prayed before making decisions and he prayed at important moments in his ministry. He prayed all night before choosing his apostles. Jesus prayed in thanksgiving when his identity as the Messiah was revealed.

As we approach Holy Week, we remember that Jesus prayed in Gethsemane for the strength to fight temptation and to be obedient to God’s will. He prayed at the Last Supper that God would protect his followers from evil and from losing their faith. And on Good Friday, he died with a prayer on his lips.

In every instance in the Gospel where we can “hear” Jesus praying, he speaks to God as his Father. And he teaches us to pray in the same way: “When you pray, say: Father…”

Jesus teaches his followers to pray because only by praying can we come to know ourselves and know what God desires for our lives.

It was when Jesus was praying — at his baptism and transfiguration — that the heavens opened up and he heard the divine voice announcing that he was the Father’s beloved Son.

This is what prayer reveals to us. When we pray, heaven is open to us and we can experience the personal love that our Father has for us as his beloved sons and daughters.

Jesus teaches his followers how to pray as children of God — and he teaches us what to pray for.

He teaches us to pray for the things of God — for his holy name to be glorified, for the coming of his kingdom, for the fulfillment of his will on earth.

He teaches us to pray for our daily bread, our material needs. We pray also for our spiritual needs — to know God’s mercy and forgiveness; we pray for reconciliation with others; for the strength to overcome temptations in our lives and to resist evil in the world.

Jesus taught us to pray always.

Prayer is meant to be more than a duty we perform at certain times of the day. Prayer should shape our attitude toward life, guiding us to see the world with the Father’s eyes.

And Jesus wants us to pray with humility and a child’s trust in our Father’s goodness. He tells us that if we knock, God will open the door, if we ask, God will give us every good gift.

There is a beautiful parable about prayer that Jesus tells about a friend who knocks on his friend’s door at midnight asking for bread. The message is that we can talk to God as a friend in every circumstance; we can turn to him in every “midnight” of our lives.  

Our Father does not always give us the answers we want to hear. But we trust that he is present even in his silence, that in some way he does indeed answer our every prayer.

In this life, we may never understand some of his answers. But we pray anyway — to tell him what is in our hearts, to tell him we trust that with him all things are possible. We do not pray hoping to change God, we pray hoping to change ourselves.

That is why the essence of prayer is to pray — not for what we want, but for what God wants. Thy will be done. Not my will.

In prayer, as in all things, Jesus is our model and guide. He made his whole life into a prayer, a sacrifice of praise that he offered to God in obedience to his will and for the salvation of others.

That is what he is asking of us. Through our prayer, he invites us to entrust our lives to God, to say as he did on the cross: “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.”

Pray for me this week, and I will pray for you.

And may our Blessed Mother Mary teach us to pray as she did — to be faithful servants, that his will be done in our lives. 

You can follow Archbishop Gomez daily via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

SPECIAL OFFER! 44 issues of Angelus for just $9.95! Get the finest in Catholic journalism with first-rate analysis of the events and trends shaping the Church and the world, plus practical advice from the world’s best spiritual writers on prayer and Catholic living, along with great features about Catholic life in Los Angeles. Subscribe now!