There are different types of prayer. There is communal prayer and private prayer. In Church we collectively pray together, this is communal prayer or prayer as a community in Christ. Then there is private prayer, which one does on his or her own. In Saturday's Gospel (Mark 1: 35-44) we learn about private prayer. It says at the beginning of Saturday's Gospel, "[a]t that time, Jesus rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed" (Mark 1:35). Through this incident our Lord revealed to us how essential private prayer is for our spiritual and physical wellbeing, and that, at times, we may need to sacrifice some of our sleep to accomplish it.
We must pray in Church as a Community in Christ, but we must also pray in private. Prayer leads in the knowledge of God. The Reading of the Holy Scriptures and the hearing or chanting of the prayers and the hymns of our Holy Church reveal to us who God is but private prayer brings us even closer to Him as a person, that is having first received Him in us in Holy Communion. There in Private Prayer we appear in front of God without any disturbances which we may encounter when we pray with other people. It is in private prayer and in quietness, as the Prophet Elias of old, (1 Kings 19:1-18) that we can experience God’s Presence.
The more time we spend with God in prayer, the closer we get to God. On Sunday February 28, 2021, it was the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. In Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel Reading for that Sunday, we read that the Prodigal Son repented and began his journey home and as he was approaching home, his Father saw him from a distance and came running to embrace him. This is how it is with prayer also, if we even crawl towards God our Father, He will come running to us to embrace us. The eyes of our soul, which is our heart, may not be ready yet to see God (Matthew 5:8) but it does not change the fact that God loves us, and He wants to embrace us. We need to do our part of reaching out to Him. We just need to make time to pray, find a lonely place as Saturday’s Gospel says, and there through prayer quiet our thoughts and we will find that we really are not so lonely or as alone as we thought. As the prayer to the Holy Spirit says, God is “…present everywhere and fills all things…” We are never alone, and we have the God, who calls us His Friends (John 15:15) with us always and everywhere we go. Deuteronomy 31:8 tells us that Christ our true God is “… the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
May our Lord Jesus Christ bless us to succeed in knowing and loving Him and may we be found worthy to be with Him along with all those who love Him in His Church, which is His Body (1 Corinthians 12:27), Heaven forever and ever. Amen.