Do you pray alone or with others every day? Our first answer is, of course, I pray alone each day in my personal, private prayer with God, Mary, and/or Christ. To begin, our parents and teachers taught us basic prayers like the “Angel of God,” the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. In preparation for First communion children may have learned other prayers like the Act of Contrition, Act of Faith, Hope and Love to name a few prayers that carry us through many life moments. Prayers that we suspect are meant to be prayed privately. Having that personal relationship with God in Christ is essential but I think our ancestors in faith thought of prayer first as a people because all prayer revolved around the Chosen People, the events they experienced and the way God led them through their trials and difficulties to the Promised Land.
Moses was called by God to lead the people from captivity and subjugation in Egypt to the promise of freedom in the Promised Land. On the way, over forty years they encountered one difficulty after another and apart from their Leader, the people prayed together for deliverance, following Moses’ instructions to be faithful to the living God. Today, we hear from the Book of Exodus on their movement to Canaan.
Joshua and the people engage Amalek and his army in battle. Meanwhile Moses goes up to the top of a hill and holds the staff of God. “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better part of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.” So, Aaron and Hur hold up Moses’ hands so that the people will be successful in battle.
Without debating the inherent difficulties and merits of conflict and war, the message I glean from this passage is the importance of communal prayer, prayer supported by and with others. Our individual, personal prayers are necessary and can be effective. Communal prayer joins the prayers of all together and in that solidarity, prayer can be even more effective. That is why we maintain a prayer list, pray our intercessory prayers at Mass each Sunday, and encourage you to include your petitions in the Prayer Intention Box at Mass. Alone we may experience God’s grace and presence, but together we have unity and solidarity. After our daily personal prayer, we come together as God’s people to join together in prayer that can lead to action, lead to service that makes a difference in our world. Let’s keep praying together.
Father Larry Hendel, Pastor