Reprinted from The Private Prayers of Pope John Paul II with permission of Simon and Schuster.

We must always "pray and not lose heart."

Why must we pray?

We must pray first of all because we are believers.

Prayer is in fact the recognition of our limits and our dependence: we come from God, we are of God, and to God we return! We can therefore only abandon ourselves to him, our Lord and Creator, with absolute, total trust.

Prayer is first of all an act of intelligence, a feeling of humility and gratefulness, an attitude of trust and abandonment to the one who gave us his life for love.

Prayer is a mysterious but real dialogue with God, a dialogue of confidence and love.

We are, however, Christians, and so we must pray as Christians.

In fact, for the Christian prayer acquires a special character, which changes its intimate nature and its intimate value.

The Christian is a disciple of Jesus; he believes truly that Jesus is the Word Incarnate; the Son of God come among us on this earth.

Therefore, the Christian knows that his prayer is Jesus; every one of his prayers starts from Jesus; it is he who prays in us, with us, for us.

All those who believe in God pray; but the Christian prays in Jesus Christ: Christ is our prayer!

The greatest prayer is the Holy Mass, because in the Holy Mass Jesus himself is fully present, as he renews the sacrifice of the Cross; but every prayer is valid, especially the Our Father, which he himself wished to teach the Apostles and all men on earth.

Saying the words of the Our Father, Jesus created a specific and, at the same time, universal model. Indeed, all that we can and must say to the Father is contained in those seven requests, which we all know by heart. They are so simple that even a child can learn them, but at the same time so profound that one can spend a lifetime meditating upon their meaning.

Finally, we must continue to pray because we are frail and full of guilt.

We must recognize humbly and realistically that we are poor creatures, confused in our ideas, tempted to evil, frail and weak, continually in need of inner strength and comfort.

  • Prayer gives us the strength for grand ideals, the strength to maintain our faith, charity, purity, generosity;
  • Prayer gives us the courage to emerge from indifference and sin if, unfortunately, we have yielded to temptation and weakness;
  • Prayer gives us light by which to see and to consider the events of our own life and of history itself in the salvific perspective of God and eternity.

    Therefore, do not stop praying! Do not let a day pass without praying a little! Prayer is a duty, but it is also a great joy, because it is a dialogue with God through Jesus Christ.

    Celebrate the Holy Mass every Sunday, and if possible sometimes during the week as well; every day say prayers in the morning and evening and at any other opportune moments!

    March 14, 1979
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