2024, year of prayer: a timely theme

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By choosing to dedicate the year 2024 to prayer, Pope Francis urges Christians to deepen their relationship with Christ and discover the power of prayer. Excellent timing as 2024 is set to offer Catholics around the world multiple opportunities to pray.

Atimely theme. While there is obviously always time to learn to pray or to deepen one’s relationship with Christ by learning prayer or the Liturgy of the Hours, the calendar for the year 2024 is a particular invitation to do so. Wars in Ukraine and the Holy Land , fragile unity of the Church, climate crisis, end-of-life bill, European elections, Olympic Games in Paris… The stakes are high but prayer is powerful! 2024 is an opportunity to learn to pray and taste the countless fruits that a privileged relationship with the Lord has in store… In short, it’s time to get started! And there is no shortage of intentions! It is also a way of preparing for the 2025 Jubilee, celebrated with great fanfare in Rome with some 30 million pilgrims.

A pillar of Christian life, prayer is experienced in a thousand different ways by the baptized. We pray a little, a lot or passionately. We pray alone or in community. We pray in the morning or in the evening. We pray to give thanks or to ask. We pray to God, the Virgin or the saints… But beyond all these forms, prayer remains above all a dialogue. A personal, intimate heart to heart with God. It was Jesus who taught his disciples the very principle of prayer: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, you will find; knock, it will be opened to you” ( Lk 11:9 ). Jesus also said: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! » ( Mt 7:11 ).

Man, a creature who needs help

Since the beginning of his history, man has carried within him the desire for God. “The desire for God is written in the heart of man, because man is created by God and for God,” explains the Catechism of the Catholic Church ( n. 27 ). Saint Thomas Aquinas defines prayer as “the expression of man’s desire for God.” Man knows, man feels that he can address God, that he can pray to him. “This attraction towards God, which God himself has placed in man, is the soul of prayer,” emphasizes Benedict XVI .

Benedict XVI gave excellent teachings on prayer, “a sort of school of prayer” as he himself calls them, during general audiences from May 2011 to October 2012 . In particular, he demonstrated why man had such a need to pray: “In prayer, man considers himself and his situation before God, from God and in relation to God, and he makes “experience of being a creature in need of help, incapable of achieving the fulfillment of one’s own existence and one’s own hope on one’s own.” Man needs to enter into a relationship with the Most High in order to grasp the meaning of his existence and know the plan that God has for the world.

Learn to pray

That being said, prayer does not come naturally. “We must learn to pray”, recommends Benedict XVI. “Even those who are very advanced in the spiritual life always feel the need to put themselves in the school of Jesus to learn to pray with authenticity. » The first example to follow is Jesus: “The Gospels describe Jesus to us in intimate and constant dialogue with the Father: it is a profound communion of him who came into the world not to do his will, but that of the Father who sent him for the salvation of man. »

Praying man on a black background

FOTOGRIN | Shutterstock

Mass is said: prayer is communion between God and man, not to satisfy the will of man, but rather to listen, discern and implement the will of God. “True Christian prayer does not aim to change God, but to let oneself be changed by him”, underlines Mgr Batut in the very good Mooc “  Enter into prayer  ” – a free online training which turns out to be an excellent tool, at the dawn of this new year dedicated to prayer, to live our relationship with the Lord even more intensely.

Because it will be very useful to know how to pray in 2024! In addition to our personal intentions, current events will not fail to offer numerous situations likely to be placed under the gaze and in the hands of God. In his book  The Power of Prayer , Pope Francis details what he means by “pray”: “Prayer is not a good practice for putting one’s heart at peace nor a force of devotion to obtain from God what that we want. In a word, it means: to entrust – to entrust the Church, to entrust people, to entrust situations to the Father, so that He can take care of them.” Through prayer, it is a question of handing over to God all the subjects that concern us, in the face of which we are sometimes powerless, so that he “takes care” of them, that is to say, he models them according to his own will.


In 2024 again, it will be welcome to pray for peace to come to countries at war. An intention that Pope Francis has continued to carry and present to God through the intercession of the Virgin Mary , “Queen of Peace”. In this sense, he invited the faithful to renew every March 25  the act of consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary . “Let us not tire of entrusting the cause of peace to the Queen of Peace,” he urged on March 22.


Man shouts in front of bombed Gaza building
Israel responded to Hamas’ bloody offensive on October 7 with deadly air raids on the Gaza Strip. October 2023


Ten days after the return from the war between Israel and Palestine, Sunday October 15, 2023, he also invited all believers to a day of prayer and fasting, emphasizing that “prayer is the sweet and holy force that opposes the diabolical force of hatred, terrorism and war. Whether in Ukraine, the Holy Land or any other country plagued by conflict, Christians will still be invited to pray for peace in 2024.


In France, it is very likely that the political calendar will once again give rise to prayers, particularly for the respect and protection of life, from its conception to its natural end. Between the various societal bills and the European elections scheduled for June 2024, Christians will be called to unite their voices and their prayers to defend life, both beginning and end. Already in February 2023, at the heart of the debate on the end of life, the CEF had committed to living a day of fasting and prayer for respect for all human life.

A patient in a palliative care unit.

BRITTA PEDERSEN / DPA / dpa Picture-Alliance via AFP

During Christmas masses, the bishops proposed to all parishes in France the same prayer to “enlighten our rulers so that those who are responsible for developing and voting on the law become better aware of the fact that all life is a gift for humanity, that all life is worthy and respectable.” A prayer which may continue into 2024, in particular in anticipation of the bill including voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) in the Constitution, included on the agenda of the National Assembly on Wednesday January 24, 2024, as well as of the bill “on the French end-of-life model” , paving the way for euthanasia and presented in February 2024.


Tensions with Catholics attached to the traditional liturgy, particularly after the publication, on February 21, 2023, of the rescript clarifying the motu proprio  Traditionis custodes , a standoff between the Holy See and the Church of Germany after the German synodal path , imminent risk of schism with the Syro-Malabar Church , revolt of African bishops following the publication, on December 18, of Fiducia Supplicans allowing “blessing couples in an irregular situation and couples of the same sex”… The subjects of tension in within the Church are numerous. And the last session of the “Synod on Synodality”, which will take place in Rome in October 2024, risks reviving dissension on certain subjects such as the place of women or the celibacy of priests. Even if the organizers have warned that immediate decisions on burning questions will not come out of this synod, it is not impossible that Pope Francis will take up certain issues to provide answers. 

Pope Francis leads a mass on the opening day of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops 2023
Synod launch mass, October 4, 2023.

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Strong tensions and risks of division, while Christ’s ultimate desire is unity. Did not Jesus, on the evening of the Last Supper, surrounded by his disciples, address a prayer to his Father so that “they may all be one”? A prayer that all those who follow Christ remain united. A plea from Jesus which particularly resonates in this context of a Church weakened in many respects:

“That they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you.May they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.And I have given them the glory which you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them, and you in me.Let them thus become perfectly one, that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that thou hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.» (Jn 17:21)


2024 will also see continued efforts to stem the climate crisis. An awareness desired by the Pope, who took up his pen this year to alert the world of the climate crisis that threatens it: “The world that welcomes us is crumbling and is perhaps approaching a breaking point “, he writes in Laudate Deum .


© Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH – Shutterstock

According to him, it is no longer a question of “denying”, “hiding”, “concealing” or even “putting into perspective” the signs of climate change. It is time for world leaders to act in the face of the emergency of global warming, and for believers to praise God, as the title of his apostolic letter invites. Praise God for all his creatures, in the manner of Saint Francis of Assisi. The way to admire the tenderness of Jesus towards all beings who populate the planet, and to take care of our “common home”.


The countdown begins. In seven months, on July 26, the Olympic and Paralympic Games will open in Paris during the opening ceremony on the Seine where nearly 600,000 spectators are expected. France, the host country, has been preparing since 2017 to welcome more than 10,000 athletes from around the world, as well as 15 million visitors, driven by a passion for sport. The scale of the event cannot leave Catholics indifferent. And they also have a role to play. A specific prayer was also broadcast by the Catholic Church of France, calling for people to live the passion for sport in fraternity, peace and joy.


Svet foto I Shutterstock

The Holy Games system , supported by the CEF, sets up an entire organization to offer spiritual support to sports delegations: a chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame-des-Sportifs reserved for athletes in the church of La Madeleine in Paris, approximately 80 “  Olympic parishes  ” in Paris and Ile-de-France, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the crown of thorns, vigil of blessing of the athletes, opening and closing masses… If Catholics are called to pray, for the smooth running of the Games and to celebrate, through sport, the human person and the call to fraternity between peoples, another way of associating yourself with the event is also to join a Holy Games “route” . Indeed, Holy Games is looking for young people to illuminate this large-scale sporting event with their joy and faith.

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