Jesus is the divine model of prayer because, by becoming man while remaining divine, He showed us by His example that we could draw close to God by prayer, since prayer played such an important part in His life.
During the thirty years of His hidden life, Jesus lived an ordinary, quiet, and prayerful life. Subject to Mary and Joseph, He labored as a carpenter; He also prayed.
Forty days of prayer and penance were the prelude to His three years as a missionary. He not only spoke often of prayer and encouraged and taught people to pray, but He also practiced prayer Himself. Interiorly, He enjoyed the constant vision of God and, therefore, was always engaged in inward communion with His Father.
But Jesus also prayed outwardly. In His brief teaching career, He always found time for prayer, even prolonged prayer. He rose very early to pray before He began to teach, and He left the company of His followers in the evening to seek His Father in prayer.
“And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
“In these days he went out into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
Jesus prayed publicly and vocally. He taught His disciples how to pray, especially by giving them the most beautiful prayer ever composed, the “Our Father.” In imitation of Jesus, we, too, direct most of our prayers to God the Father. We pray to our Father in the name of Jesus. It is through the sacred humanity of Jesus that the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God the Father.
After the “Our Father,” the most sublime prayer of Jesus was the high-priestly prayer He uttered at the Last Supper. He prayed that His Father might glorify Him. There He prayed for His disciples and for those who, through the teachings of the disciples, were to believe in Him; that all might be one, even as He and the Father are one. “That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me” (John 17:21).
Jesus prayed at ordinary times in the synagogue, and elsewhere, on various occasions. He prayed before undertaking any important project. Before He chose His twelve Apostles, He prayed all night. Before the great miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, He prayed in thanksgiving. Before raising Lazarus to life, Jesus lifted His eyes and thanked His Father for the miracle He was about to perform.
Jesus closed His life with prayer. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed on the Cross, asking not for justice, but for mercy and pardon to be granted those who were putting Him to death. When He yielded His soul up to God, He cried out, “Father into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). The supreme act of His life was completed by a prayer of trustful love to His Heavenly Father.
The glorified life of Jesus is entirely engulfed in prayer. In the Holy Eucharist, He always lovingly adores His heavenly Father, taking delight in contemplation of the infinite perfections of the Triune God and in glorification of Him by His prayer life in the tabernacle. In the Eucharist, Jesus also occupies Himself with the interests of mankind. He thanks God for us, continually prays for us, asks pardon for our sins, and makes constant reparation for those sins. He continually offers Himself to God and pours out His graces upon all mankind as our Eucharistic Mediator.
In Heaven, Jesus is the Representative and High Priest of all humanity. He honors His Father and implores heavenly help for us. The whole Church and all individuals are sustained by His prayer of mediation, as they are by His doctrine, labors, and sufferings.
Jesus prays in the Mass. Even now, though He has ascended into Heaven, Jesus renews, throughout time, the perfect offering of Himself to God the Father by the Sacrifice of the Mass. Each Mass shows us His Death, which was a sacrifice in blood upon the Cross. In each Mass, the same High Priest offers Himself to the Father, by the hands of His priests, in an unbloody manner; He perpetuates the Sacrifice of the Cross and applies the fruits of His Redemption to our souls.
Since the price that was paid is infinite, there is no grace for which we may not hope, if we beg for it through the Divine Mediator.