3 Ways Prayer Produces Disciples

The Power of Prayer in the New Evangelization 

Remember when tucking your pants INSIDE your tube socks (like Punky Brewster) was totally rad? While many 1980s trends have mercifully fallen away, Pope St. John Paul II’s “new evangelization” seems to have survived the test of time. It’s not just surviving; it’s thriving. In the 1980s, our newly sainted pope called for a new evangelization of the world, an approach to sharing the Gospel new in its ardor, expression, and methods. JPII started a fire that is now blazing in parishes, on social media, and just about everywhere. 

The Word on Fire
Fr. Robert Barron lives and breathes the new evangelization. His most recent DVD set is called Catholicism: The New Evangelization. In it, he emphasizes that the Catholic faith is “about an encounter so overwhelming that you want to tell the whole world. It is an encounter with Jesus Christ.”

Pope Francis celebrated the new evangelization within the first several paragraphs of his November 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. He highlighted three important audiences for the “new evangelization for the transmission of the faith.” These are the regular churchgoing crowd, the baptized but non-practicing folks, and the people who have never heard about Jesus or who reject him out of habit. The cover of Rolling Stone qualifies as new mission territory, don't you think?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are so excited about the new evangelization they go so far as to capitalize the term. Their website dedicates an entire resource section to the concept, highlighting a critical component of our worldwide initiative: “The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.”

The Apostleship of Prayer serves the new evangelization in a small—but paradoxically great—way: we help people cultivate a very practical habit of daily prayer. The new evangelization calls for disciples with a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and prayer is a personal, practical, and powerful way to meet the person of Jesus, to form his new disciples. Here are 3 ways prayer can make disciples out of all of us:

1) Prayer Is Personal

Jesus speaks to us in our own hearts and through the circumstances of each day. Jesus waits patiently for the gift only you can give: the gift of yourself, each day. Christ offers himself in the Eucharist every day for us, and we can respond by offering in return all our works, prayers, joys, and sufferings. No one can do this for us. If we want, we get to spend the entire day with Jesus, who loves each one of us as if we were the only human person he ever created.

2) Prayer Is Practical

No instructions required! No log-in necessary! Praying can be as simple as breathing. Some people find memorized prayers helpful, such as the Morning Offering or the rosary. But the one thing necessary is a heart open to the Heart of Jesus. Like Martha’s sister Mary (Luke 10:38-42), we please Jesus when we pay attention to him. If we look for Jesus in the midst of our daily lives, we will find him everywhere. 

3) Prayer is Powerful

Powerful. When we share our heart’s desires with the Lord, beautiful and wonderful things happen: our hearts become more like the generous Heart of Jesus, and we grow in awareness of how God listens to us and gives us all good things. At the end of the book of Job, God tells Job’s friends to ask him to pray on their behalf: “Let my servant Job pray for you. To him I will show favor” (Job 42:8). Through God’s grace, Job demonstrated his faithfulness to the Lord, the God who then delights in the prayers of his faithful servant. God always hears our prayers, and, as our loving Father, gives us all we need: his holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).

Parents are the most important influence on their children in every way. When it comes to prayer, parents have a tremendous opportunity to help children learn how to pray so children develop a spontaneous, peaceful, instinctual impulse to turn to the Lord in any situation. “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Mark 10:14).

The emphasis on the new evangelization reminds us to make disciples of our very own children. The Apostleship of Prayer wants to help. Come and see! 

(Our fabulous "Praying with Children" brochure provides practical tips for
helping your child cultivate friendship with God through prayer.)