Quick Lessons from the Catechism – What is Prayer?

Since today is the National Day of Prayer here in the United States of America, and since I have not written a Quick Lessons from the Catechism (QLC) in many months, I thought I would quickly review with you what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says about prayer. Now it should be noted, the entire last section of the Catechism focuses on Christian prayer. It should also be noted that I have written on other aspects of prayer in the past. You can check those out on the QLC page on this website.

Recently, I have had two excellent experiences with prayer – first, was on Monday night with my Brother Knights of Knights of Columbus. Since it is May – the month of Mary, I thought it would be good to get together and pray the Holy Rosary. We had 32 men show up to pray the Rosary. It was pretty awesome to pray the Holy Rosary with so many Brothers. Because they enjoyed it so much, this is going to become a regular prayer gathering before our monthly meetings.

Second, during the Season of Lent and into the Easter Season, I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), which is actually the official prayer of the Catholic Church. Priests and Religious are required to pray it daily. What I have been doing, since it is bit difficult to get into a habit on your own (most times it is said in community), is that I try to pray 1-2 offices a day (morning prayer/daytime prayer/evening prayer/night prayer). Personally, I have found that when I do pray it, my day is more complete and my relationship is better that day with Christ and His Church. The app, iBreviary, is a great way to start praying the Liturgy of the Hours without purchasing the four-volume set.

Sassoferrato – Virgin Mother

Now let’s quickly examine what the Catechism says about the question – What is Prayer? The CCC answers the question directly with a quote from St. Therese of Lisieux –

“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

Furthermore, the Catechism says,

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” (St. John Damascene, De fide orth. 3, 24:PG 94, 1089C). [#2590]

God tirelessly calls each person to this mysterious encounter with Himself. Prayer unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation as a reciprocal call between God and man. [#2591]

The prayer of Abraham and Jacob is presented as a battle of faith marked by trust in God’s faithfulness and by certitude in the victory promised to perseverance. [#2592]

The prayer of Moses responds to the living God’s initiative for the salvation of his people. It foreshadows the prayer of intercession of the unique mediator, Christ Jesus. [#2593]

The prayer of the People of God flourished in the shadow of the dwelling place of God’s presence on earth, the ark of the covenant and the Temple, under the guidance of their shepherds, especially King David, and of the prophets. [#2594]

The prophets summoned the people to conversion of heart and, while zealously seeking the face of God, like Elijah, they interceded for the people. [#2595]

The Psalms constitute the masterwork of prayer in the Old Testament. They present two inseparable qualities: the personal, and the communal. They extend to all dimensions of history, recalling God’s promises already fulfilled and looking for the coming of the Messiah. [#2596]

Prayed and fulfilled in Christ, the Psalms are an essential and permanent element of the prayer of the Church. They are suitable for men of every condition and time. [#2597]

For a more complete understanding, I would encourage you to read paragraphs 2558-2589. If you are looking for Catholic prayers, here is EWTN’s page on Prayer. If you are interested in learning more about the Liturgy of the Hours, you can read about it here.

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