Prayer should be a continuous. Isaac, the 7th century Syrian Nestorian monk said, “The culmination of all asceticism is the never ending prayer”. It is the Spirit who prays in us in continuous prayer. No matter if we sleep or remain awake. No matter whether we eat or drink, take rest or work. Some attain it invoking often the name of Jesus. For Claret it is to live in the presence of God continuously.
How many times must one pray? Jesus replies, “Always”. If the prayer is to love, we cannot leave aside prayer. It is not a question of calculations, much less bargaining. We cannot always be saying our prayers, but we can remain continually praying as in the case of continually loving. Those who love mutually understand it well. They always feel united even when far away. Benedict XVI frequently advised that the time spent in prayer should be considered as apostolic work. That´s why, even if we have a lot to do, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say, “If we have much to do, let us pray more”.
The real problem is not feeling the need for dialogue with God. For Claret the highest example is Jesus and his need of dialogue with his Father. A dialogue is never interrupted and it is concluded on the cross, amidst the most absolute surrender. In one of the Spiritual Maxims published for youngsters in 1857, comments Claret, “Mental prayer comes from an oven where the fire of the love of God is enkindled and preserved…..In the fire blazing in meditation is where all the dregs are removed, men are melted and instilled and moulded in the image of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak as those in the upper room”.