6 Essential Principles of Prayer for Every Missionary Disciple

“Only the interior life can sustain us in the hidden, backbreaking labor of planting the seed that seems to go so long without fruit.”  ― Jean-Baptiste Chautard, Soul of the Apostolate

Think of some of the busiest, most energetic, most fruitful Missionary Disciples of our time, people like St. Mother Teresa, St. John Paul II,  and Pope Francis. All of these evangelists had one thing in common: they dedicated an inordinate amount of time to personal prayer.

In order to be a Missionary Disciple we must do the same. We can do nothing apart from Christ. The saints called this dedication to personal prayer the “interior life.” The foundation of the interior life is daily mental prayer.

One classic spiritual manual on prayer that is a must read for those striving for Missionary Discipleship is the Soul of the Apostolate by Jean-Baptiste Chautard. In this manual Chautard gives 6 principles to follow to grow in the interior life.

  1. Pray before your act. Always seek God’s will before jumping headlong into an activity, even the most noble or heroic act of service or evangelization.

  2. No activity is important enough to harm your prayer life. It doesn’t matter how righteous an activity is, if it keeps you from habitual and consistent prayer then cut it out of your life.

  3. Schedule your prayer time. You schedule the most important activities in your  life. What does it say about the importance of your prayer life if you not schedule that time and hold yourself to that appointment with God?

  4. The busier you are the more you need a consistent prayer life. The success of our own activity and good works can blind us to the need for a consistent prayer life. All of our activity is for nothing if it is not the fruit of an active life of prayer.

  5. No one is perfect, but do not lose your desire to pray. We are going to have days  - or days on end - when we fail at prayer. On those days it is important to take your spiritual temperature. Do you still desire a deep connection with Christ? If so, there is still hope to get back on track!

  6. Keep the goal in mind. The goal is a habitual prayer life in which you are totally dependent on God’s grace for all of your activity. I know for me this will be a life-long pursuit!