Between personal prayer and group prayer, which is the best?
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6:6).
To withdraw into the secret “room” of one’s heart and find God there — more integral to us than ourselves — we need moments of solitude. Jesus set the example: very often during his earthly life, he withdrew apart to pray, alone. But at the same time he told us: “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Mt 18:19). And the prayer he taught us begins with the words, “Our Father.”
Private prayer connects us to others
Placing ourselves before the gaze of the Father in prayer makes us brothers and sisters. Even when we pray alone, we are never isolated. We pray in the name of our brothers and sisters, with them and for them. The prayer of a monk cloistered behind his monastery walls, that of the hermit, of an old lady reciting the Rosary in the solitude of a nursing home, of the ill person cut off from the world in a hospital bed … all these private prayers are a communion with God and, in him, with all mankind. Prayer connects us to others in an invisible but very real way.
Just as we need moments of solitude, it is also important that we physically experience the communal dimension of prayer, by praying with others: as a couple, as a family, a parish, a community, a school, with friends … Without, of course, forgetting the liturgical prayer of the Church, above all the Mass, the prayer among prayers. Because no one is a Christian all on their own; prayer is never an individual affair!