Do you have a plan when you pray the rosary and for incorporating what you learn from prayer in your life? Do you pray with purpose? I thought about how I pray the rosary while thinking about the three magi honoring Jesus in the Epiphany. The three wise men didn’t just set out into the desert without a plan. They did not wander aimlessly and happen to come across Jesus by chance. And it wasn’t by chance that they had gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh on their arrival. They observed, prepared, and followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit by following the star. And all their hard work paid off as they were among the first to honor Christ our King and Savior.
Do we show that same level of preparation and intent when we pray the rosary? Often times we pray the rosary without a lot of intent or purpose. We just think that if we recite all the Our Fathers and Hail Marys that something good will magically happen to us. That isn’t prayer. That is more akin to reciting incantations and spells. We too should follow some sort of guidance and have a purpose to praying the rosary. That guidance can come from the divine inspiration from the Holy Spirit or we can get ideas from a prayer-book (hint, hint). We should lay before God our personal concerns, intentions, sorrows, and thanksgivings while praying. Say the words to the standard prayers, but back them up with your personal thoughts. That is what makes prayer meaningful and truly a personal conversation between you and God. The three magi reached their goal by putting in the effort to follow the star God put before them. We reach our spiritual goals when we intentionally follow the Holy Spirit in prayer, really concentrate and think about what God tells us, and let Him guide our actions.
And what results from our prayers? Do we glorify God with love, good works, and avoiding sin? Or do we offer God lip service in our prayers without any intention of truly living as He calls us? Do we treat prayer as our license to commit sin? Do we think we are good and holy people because we pray when our actions might paint a different story? Imagine if the three wise men did not adequately prepare themselves for meeting Jesus and forgot their gifts or did not give any respect to the baby Jesus. That would make all their hard work look like a waste of time. And yet we often do this when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist with sins on our soul or our stubborn pride prevents us from admitting our faults and receiving absolution through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us not pray in vain by ignoring how God asks us to live. Rather, take to heart God’s words so that only good will come from your actions.
We should remember to pray the rosary with a purpose. Prayer is a means of helping us live as one of Jesus’ disciples and isn’t an end in itself. We should recall the Fifth Luminous Mystery and remember that we should approach Jesus in the Eucharist only when our souls are cleansed of all mortal sin. We should remember the Second Joyful Mystery and how Mary put God’s grace to work by visiting and helping her cousin Elizabeth. And we should remember the Fifth Glorious Mystery and how Mary, Queen of Heaven, is there to guide us always closer to Her son, Jesus Christ. She is our guiding star to God’s heavenly kingdom. The question is, are we observant, prepared, and have the resolve to follow the path God lays before us like the three magi?