As the children of God, we are called to pray. Our heavenly Father wants to hear from us. He also desires to speak to us. He wants to give us words of hope, encouragement, admonition and instruction. Our task is to hear what God is saying to us and then to faithfully do whatever he asks of us.

The life of prayer is preeminently exemplified by the Blessed Virgin Mary. No one gave the obedience and fidelity that she gave to the living God. As our poetic tradition attests, Mary is the singular boast of our fallen race.

The Blessed Mother has been with us since the beginning of redemption.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Mary’s prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time.”

Every generation of faith, therefore, has been aided by Mary’s maternal presence and guidance. She stands as the First Disciple of the Lord and the Mother and Teacher of all disciples in all the areas of the Christian way of life, especially prayer.

Before the Lord’s Incarnation, the prayer of Our Lady was already uniquely cooperating with the will of God. Her prayer became the means for the long-awaited redemption to come upon humanity. The Catechism notes: “Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father’s plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ’s conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body.”

The entire life of the Blessed Mother was an oblation, a living sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. The full span of the Lord’s earthly life – from his conception to the formation of the Church, his Body – was surrounded and cushioned by the love and prayers of his mother. She was always present as his mother and as a faithful, prayerful instrument of the will of God.

As we consider the powerful gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, we can be moved to a greater life of prayer as we consider the prayerful witness and presence of Our Lady in the ushering forth of our Savior.

The Catechism encapsulates this prayerful cooperation of Our Lady: “In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time.”

It was Mary’s faith and prayer that were the final preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The entirety of the yearnings and pining of God’s people for the Messiah came to culmination and found its fullest expression in the faith and prayer of the Blessed Mother. It was her humble, simple “yes” that literally gave birth to our Savior and Redeemer.

The Catechism notes: “She whom the Almighty made ‘full of grace’ responds by offering her whole being: ‘Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.’”

Mary held nothing back. She gave everything. Having been made full of God’s grace, her whole existence hungered for the coming and the glorification of the Messiah. She was the handmaid of the Lord without equal. She sought the fulfillment of God’s will through and above all the things of this life.

The Catechism gives us a maxim that provokes wonder and gratitude: “’Fiat’: this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God’s, because he is wholly ours.”

It was Mary’s “fiat,” her “yes,” that has become the singular example of Christian prayer. In the simple expression, Our Lady says it all. “Fiat,” whatever God wants. I give all that I have. Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.

As we make God our everything, we are able to see how he has made himself our everything. God has come to us, sought us out, and thirsts for our fellowship. The divine kindness of God becoming “wholly ours” leads us to a deeper and ever expansive life of prayer as we seek the face of the God who has made himself our own.

Who are we that such a gift should be given? The question shows the suspicion and gives voice to the amazement: God has come to me. He has given me himself. And this awareness humbles any pride and dismantles any hesitation within us. God’s gift of himself leads us to give our entire selves to him. This is the impetus and the fulfillment of our faith and prayer in God.