The apostolic prayer consists in turning to God in order to save souls, one’s own first, then the souls of those entrusted to us, and finally all souls.
Praying this prayer confirms the conviction that the conversion and sanctification of souls is a work of grace and thus that everything depends on God alone, whereas we, for all our activity, are only God’s “worthless instruments”, which He employs out of condescension.
The apostolic purpose, however, is also an important incentive for us, since we are often very negligent in our prayers. Knowing that the eternal salvation of many people, perhaps of my dearest friends, can depend on my prayer forces me, so to speak, to get down on my knees.
For this reason Fr. Maximilian Kolbe describes apostolic prayer as the foundation of all missionary work. At the moment when the City of the Immaculata was setting its highest records, when the number of brothers surpassed 700 and millions of copies of the magazine Knight of the Immaculata were being published, when externally they were having their greatest successes, the saint lamented: “We think too little about the Immaculata. We read too little about her, we draw near to her too infrequently. Everyone should examine himself: how often each day have I turned to her? He will have to be ashamed. We have not been childlike enough for her to govern us so that all our actions might belong to her and she might be our Queen. … We read in the Old Testament that Moses prayed with hands upraised for the Israelites as they were battling with the enemy. Whenever he allowed his hands to sink, the Israelites would begin to lose. So we too must have our hands raised in prayer; essentially the whole future depends on it.”
The apparitions at Fatima, too, assure us of the importance of prayer. It is very significant that the angel who in the second apparition surprised the children while they were playing by the well, called to them as follows: “What are you doing there? Pray! Pray much! The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary are full of mercy and inclined to you. Offer prayers and sacrifices unceasingly to the Most-High!”
Just as she did a few decades before in Lourdes, so too here Our Lady guides the children into the spirit of prayer. Not only in the sense that the children learned from her several prayers, and not just the demand that they pray much, especially the daily Rosary. Through the supernatural light that Mary communicated to them during the first three apparitions, the children were privileged to experience the whole depth of the life of prayer. Yet the children did not go for their own sakes to this school of the Immaculate Heart; we, too, can and must profit from it.
Mary knows how difficult it is for us these days really to pray, and therefore she holds up the simple prayer of little children as an example that we can imitate, so as to be united with God in the shortest possible time. And what does the prayer of the children of Fatima consist of? To console God, to repair for the crimes committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and above all, to implore the conversion of the poor sinners!