Prayer is the #1 Pastoral Activity of a Priest

Just a short collection of some good quotes reminding us of the importance of prayer in the life of a priest… 

Pope Benedict XVI

“Activism by itself can even be heroic, but in the end, external action is fruitless and loses its effectiveness unless it is born from deep inner communion with Christ. The time we spend on this is truly a time of pastoral activity, authentic pastoral activity. The priest must above all be a man of prayer” (Thoughts on Holy Mass, 47-8).

“The core of the priesthood is beings friends with Jesus Christ… being a friend of Jesus, being a priest, means being a man of prayer” (Ibid, 48).

“In the Breviary, on 4 November, we read a beautiful text by St Charles Borromeo, a great shepherd, who truly gave all of himself, and says to us, to all priests, “Do not neglect your own soul. If your soul is neglected, even to others you can not give what you should give. Thus, even for yourself, for your soul, you must have time“. Or, in other words, the personal colloquy with Christ, the personal dialogue with Christ is a fundamental pastoral priority in our work for the others! And prayer is not a marginal thing: it is the “occupation” of the priest to pray, as representative of the people who do not know how to pray or do not find time to pray. The personal prayer, especially the Prayer of the Hours, is fundamental nourishment for our soul, for all our actions (2010 Address to Priests).

Cardinal Sarah

“All activity must be preceded by an intense life of prayer, contemplation, seeking and listening to God’s will” (Hidden Power of Silence, 28).

“Without the asceticism of silence, pastors become rather uninteresting men, prisoners of their boring, pathetic torrents of words. Without the life of the Holy Spirit and without silence, a priest’s teaching is nothing but confused chatter devoid of substance. A priest’s speech must be an expression of his soul and the sign of divine Providence” (Ibid, 78).

“The priest is a man of silence. He must always be listening for God. True pastoral and missionary depth can come only from silent prayer. Without silence, the priesthood is ruined. A priest must be in the hands of the Holy Spirit. If he strays from the Spirit, he will be doomed to carry out a merely human work” (Ibid, 79).

St. John Paul II

“Those called to share Christ’s mission and sacrifice find in his example the incentive to give prayer its rightful place in their lives, as the foundation, root and guarantee of holiness in action. Indeed, we learn from Jesus that a fruitful exercise of the priesthood is impossible without prayer, which protects the presbyter from the danger of neglecting the interior life for the sake of action and from the temptation of so throwing himself into work as to be lost in it” (General Audience 1993).

Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

“If the priest is a saint, the people will be fervent; if the priest is fervent, the people will be pious; if the priest is pious, the people will at least be decent; if the priest is only decent, the people will be godless. The spiritual generation is always one-degree less intense in its life than the one who begets it in Christ.” (The Soul of the Apostolate, 39).

If you know of any other quotes, feel free to add them below!


  1. Thank you Richard! Love the Soul of the Apostolate quote – a great encouragement.

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