10 of the Most Beautiful John Paul II Quotes on Prayer
Almost fifteen years ago, I received a refrigerator magnet with an image of St. John Paul II with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (now Saint) and the quote, “We are not called to be successful, but faithful.” Since that time, the magnet has traveled with me throughout several moves and many life changes. When I glance at it, I inwardly smile and am instantly encouraged.
St. John Paul II certainly had the spiritual charism of encouragement. The topics he covered, though many, always centered on understanding, respecting, and embracing the human person in every form or stage of life. Here are ten quotes that focus on one’s prayer life and relationship with Jesus. When we contemplate this saint’s sage advice, we are necessarily drawn to love God more fully and pray more often.
1. “The Rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth. In the prayer we repeat many times the words that the Virgin Mary heard from the Archangel, and from her kinswoman Elizabeth.”
The Rosary offers that juxtaposition of simplicity and profundity. When we pray each decade with sincerity and meditate upon each mystery, we enter into the Scriptures. They come alive so that we more deeply appreciate the gift of Jesus’ life and death, as well as the role Mary plays as our spiritual mother.
2. “To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and His mother.”
Sometimes we cannot muster creative, spontaneous prayers to God. We feel emotionally and even spiritually depleted. The Rosary can be a familiar companion when we are at a loss for words. We find the cadence of each prayer to soothe and comfort us when we are alone, frustrated, lost, and confused. Even the act of grasping our Rosary beads eases the burdens we carry. Let us make the Rosary a frequent form of devotion to our Blessed Mother and Jesus.
3. “The Rosary is the storehouse of countless blessings.”
Years ago, I read a little spiritual gem called The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort and learned about the abundant graces and even miracles that have been attributed to the Rosary. Many saints who were devotees of the Rosary attested to this, as well. Even in our modern day, Our Lady and Jesus are knocking on the doors of human hearts through this beautiful prayer. I have a few friends who were adamantly anti-Catholic, yet converted to the Church after being introduced to the Rosary. We must never underestimate the showers of graces we receive when praying it.
4. “The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christ-centered prayer. It has all the depth of the gospel message in its entirety. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb.”
St. John Paul II had a tender and very transparent devotion to Our Lady, so it’s no surprise that he recognized the “perennial Magnificat” that we pray, alongside Mary, when we reverently recite the prayers of the Rosary. All Marian theologians agree that, if we long to obtain perfect union with Jesus, then we must acquaint ourselves closely with His mother. She, in turn, leads us back to Him.
5. “In prayer you become one with the source of our true light – Jesus Himself.”
Most of us were raised to believe that prayer merely involved the recitation of the Our Father or Hail Mary. While these are certainly fundamental and crucial prayers that all Catholics should know, authentic prayer that leads us closer to full union with Jesus requires authentic dialogue. We must listen first, then respond in love. Prayer is conversation with God at the heart level, and that is what leads us to Jesus Himself.
6. “The way Jesus shows you is not easy. Rather, it is like a path winding up a mountain. Do not lose heart! The steeper the road, the faster it rises toward ever wider horizons!”
The more we discipline ourselves in daily conversation with God, the more impediments we may encounter, such as spiritual attack, distractions and diversions, everyday routines, and so forth. The path to Jesus, which leads us to Heaven, is difficult. We must learn to persevere and allow God to prune us through the spiritual aridity, the mysteries, and the questions we endure. St. John Paul II encourages us to keep moving forward without discouragement and maintain our hope in the fulfillment of God’s plans for our lives. Prayer fosters virtue in us so that we are capable of enduring all for the sake of love.
7. “Remember that you are never alone. Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives!”
Sometimes we feel distant from God, and prayer becomes a major effort. We don’t receive any spiritual consolations, feel God close to us, or hear His voice. It seems as if He is silent, and perhaps He is, for a time. But that doesn’t mean He has abandoned us. Every moment of our lives is precious to God, and we must persevere in fidelity to Him during the times He chooses to sleep in us. Our love for Him must not be contingent upon our current feelings or the goods we expect to receive, but on the knowledge of who He is, Love itself.
8. “Every vocation changes our plans, and it is astonishing to see how much inner help God gives us.”
The “inner help” we receive as our mission in life unfolds comes through prayer, specifically daily conversation with the Lord. That “inner help” is His grace, which strengthens and sustains us through each trial and triumph we encounter. Prayer is our armor. As we practice it frequently, it becomes natural and even innate. We may converse with God at the heart level without conscious discussion throughout our days, but we know that God is present, and we are constantly aware of His presence. Therefore, as we discover our primary and perhaps a secondary vocation in our lives, we call upon Him at all times to guide our path.
9. “To believe in Jesus is to accept what He says, even when it runs contrary to what others are saying.”
Prayer leads us to knowing Jesus, rather than merely knowing about Him. When we encounter Jesus, we realize that, if we love Him and truly follow Him, we will not be living according to societal popularity. Even so, we are undaunted and undeterred. Prayer fortifies us for any task. At times, God gives us glimpses of Himself so that we are newly strengthened to be the exception in the midst of a world that engages in debauchery. Prayer is one of many tools we can access so that we can rise up against falsehood and encourage men and women to live in the truth.
10. “Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.”
Without sacrifice, love remains empty and unfulfilled. Often the most powerful prayers are the unspoken acts of mercy we choose as intercession for a specific person, intention, or global need. Giving up a favorite food or drink isn’t just for Lent, and it isn’t something that should be done out of habit. Instead, we can offer up our pain, a particular meal (fasting), or something we enjoy doing (watching our favorite television show) as prayer. United to Jesus, these prayers benefit both us and the recipient. We grow in virtue, and the recipient receives the graces of our unspoken offering.
St. John Paul II knew well the importance of prayer. In fact, he went to confession daily, because he knew how valuable his relationship with God was. While most of us are unable to attend Confession daily or even weekly, we can certainly combine frequency of the sacraments, such as receiving His Body and Blood at least weekly and confessing monthly, with daily prayer. Though it’s difficult to talk to a Being we cannot touch, hug, laugh with, or literally hear, as we interact with God through shared listening and discussing, we grow in the likeness of God and bear witness to Him through our words and actions each day.