Lesson 49 – Prayer


(Prayer is a Dialogue)


Peace be to you.


Many look on prayer in somewhat the same fashion as an aviator may look on a parachute. He hopes that he may never use it, but it may come in handy in case he has to bail out. Prayer, as our Blessed Lord talked about it and taught it, was something quite different

Let us first of all see how prayer was used in His own life. 


There are four great headings under which our Blessed Lord spoke of prayer.

  1. A) First of all, His prayers were at the great events of His life;

He prayed at His baptism; (1)  He prayed before He chose the 12 apostles. (2)  He prayed also before Peter made the confession of His divinity (3). He prayed at the Transfiguration (4).  He prayed in Gethsemane (5); He prayed on the Cross (6). Then in addition to these great events in His life,

  1. B) He prayed also in the course of His ministry.

He prayed, for example, before the great conflict with the temple authorities. He prayed before giving the apostles the Lord’s Prayer (7). He prayed when the Greeks came to Him and He prayed after feeding the 5,000. (8)

In addition to these two special headings of prayer,

  1. C) He also prayed at His miracles.

         He prayed, for example, when He healed the multitudes,(9) when He fed the 5,000,(10) when He healed the deaf mute,(11)  and when He raised Lazarus from the dead. (12)  And then, in a fourth category,

  1. D) There were prayers that He said for others.

          He prayed for the eleven (13); He prayed for the whole Church; (14) He prayed for those who nailed Him to the Cross; (15) and in a very special way, He prayed for Peter. (16)


Now taking out all that He said about prayer, what is prayer? 

Well, the best definition of prayer is that it is a lifting of the mind and the heart to God. To make it more simple, prayer is a dialogue. Man breaks silence in two ways, a dialogue with his fellow man and a dialogue with God.


My dialogue with a fellow man is a proof that he is a person and so am I. The same is implied in a dialogue with God, and both of these dialogues are fulfilled in the two commandments: love God and love neighbor.


Turn over the pages of Sacred Scripture. What do you find? You find a record of men to whom God has spoken, and you’ll also find a record of men who listened to Him. In other words, scripture is fulfilled in concrete, living dialogues. Now men do not always want that dialogue with God. Sometimes they seek it; other times they flee from it. One time they desire it; at another time, they fear it.


Adam was afraid when God called him in the garden. Cain was afraid when God spoke to him. Moses was afraid before the burning bush.


When you and I have a dialogue with God, what makes it up?

One thing that makes it up is,

1)  first of all, a consciousness of our own sin, and the other is

2)  the Voice of God urging us to confess it, to seek His Mercy.

One voice crushes; the other delivers life.


One of the most beautiful examples of dialogue in scripture is that between St. Paul and our Lord, the risen Christ, on the road to Damascus (17). And everything that St. Paul wrote after that was nothing but a dialogue in which he was thereon engaged, and God’s answer always was, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”.  (18)


Now we said that prayer is: the lifting of the heart and mind to God.  Notice, we said nothing so much about the emotions. Why not?

  • Well, because prayer does not really have very much to do with sensations or emotions or feelings. It’s not a feeling in the stomach, just as it is not a pain in the stomach. It is not a capricious feeling, something that makes us purr on the inside. It has nothing to do with the animal part of us. It is not in the glands;

**it is in the intellect, it is in the will; it is in the heart, as embracing the love of truth, which belongs to the intellect, and also a resolve and a determination to grow in love, which is one of the acts of the will**.

We do not, therefore, pray because we feel like it.
  • Sometimes our prayers are much better when we do not feel like praying.


St. Francis de Sales said, “An ounce of desolation is of greater worth than a pound of consolation.”  Very often in prayer we do not have a deep sense of the presence of God; I say “sense”, referring to the biological or emotional part of our lives.

  • Really, we are very much like children that are carried in a mother’s arms. If we are carried in our Lord’s arms, we rarely see His face but we know it is there.


  • Prayer, then, is an intercourse between the created spirit and the uncreated Spirit, which is

It is a communion;   it is a conversation;    an adoration;    a penance

   a happiness;    a work;     a rest;      an asking;      a submission.

  • It has many, many forms, some belonging to beginners and others belonging to great saints.


Types of Prayers:

  • For example, there is vocal prayer, what we say with our lips.
  • Then there is meditation, which is a kind of a spiritual daydream, or reverie.
  • And then there is the higher contemplation of saints, which is an effective union with God.


In vocal prayer, we go to God on foot;

in meditation we go to God on horseback;

and in contemplation, we go to God in a jet.


It may be asked, why should we pray? 

Well, why breathe? We have to take in fresh air and get rid of bad air. We have to take in new power and get rid of our old weaknesses. We pray because we are orchestras and we always need a tune-up. Just as a battery sometimes runs down and needs to be charged, so we have to be renewed in spiritual vigor. Our Blessed Lord said, “Without Me, you can do nothing.”  (19)

  • Oh, yes, we can eat and drink and we can sin, but we cannot do anything toward our supernatural merit in heaven without Him.


We happen to live in a conditional universe and because we fulfill certain conditions and certain effects are produced.  For example, if you strike a match, it will light. That’s a condition. So, too, there are millions and millions of favors hanging from heaven on silken cords, and prayer is the sword that cuts them.


Our real strength comes from without, not within. 

    Light is not in the eye, it is in the sun. Sound is not in the ear; it is in something outside of us. The sun uses the eye; music uses the ear; and God uses us in prayer


When we pray, we get into a new environment of love. It is something like the difference between a child in a nice family and a waif. A waif of the streets has no guarantee of security; for example, food and clothing and shelter, because the child is not in an environment of love such as the child in a family.


When we pray, we put ourselves under God’s Love, and hence we receive blessings, which otherwise we would not receive.



Now this is something very much to keep in mind in family life.  Those, for example, who are raising children and never put themselves in God’s care and providentially trust Him, are not receiving the blessings of those who know that when God gives a child He will also provide for it. 


That brings us to some concrete suggestions about prayer. 

The first is this: In prayer, do not do all the talking. If you went into a doctor’s office, you would not rattle off the symptoms and then rush out. How did you learn to speak the English language? You learned to speak by listening, did you not? How does a scientist learn the laws of nature? By imposing laws upon nature?  No, he sits down passively before nature and says to nature, now you reveal to me your secrets. So, we are not constantly to be yapping in prayer. Sacred scripture says, “Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth.” (20) We often change that, and we say, “Listen, Lord, Thy servant speaketh.” Prayer is not a one-way street; it is a boulevard. In prayer, therefore, we must not only speak, we must also listen. God talks to us.  And more in meditation than in vocal prayer.


A second suggestion: petition is a very valid form of prayer but do not make all your prayers,  prayers of petition. In other words, let not the attitude before God be, “Give me; give me this, give me that.” What would a young man think of a girl who constantly said, “Give me this mink coat, give me this ring; send me these flowers.” Is it not true that when you love you are embarrassed when anyone asks, ‘What do you want?’ The more you love in a certain sense, the less you want. Now this does not mean to say, God forbid, that we must not pray for certain favors from God. We will speak of that later on because petition is an essential part of prayer . The point we are making is that it is not all prayer. It is not the perfect prayer. Therefore, think of other forms of prayer besides asking.


Thirdly, when you pray, do not think that God is reluctant about giving you favors.  You must not think that God acts toward you in somewhat the same way that some people act toward a beggar. If they see a beggar on the other side of the street, well, they will turn a corner, perhaps, to get rid of him. God is a Loving Father. As soon as we begin praying, he does not turn a deaf ear toward us.

  • Think, therefore, of your relationship to God in somewhat the same way as the relationship of a child to a father, and that is the way our blessed Lord told us to pray when in the Our Father, which contains seven petitions, (21) He began with “Our Father”.


A fourth suggestion:  There are liturgical prayers; there are indulgence prayers. They should always be favored. But in your private devotions, you should try to remember that your prayers should be your prayers. Do not let all of your prayers be like circular letters.  When you get a circular letter, do you not sometimes put it in the wastebasket? Why do not you pray out of your own heart? Your heart has problems like no one else in the world.  It has certain worries and hopes, agonies and fears and weaknesses, and these constitute the content of your prayer, and your prayer will come out of them. You will be a person who is praying.


Our blessed Lord said that He calls a sheep by name. In other words, we are individual before Him. Our blessed Lord turned to the thief and addressed him in the second person singular, “thou”.  “This day thou shall be with Me in Paradise.”  (22)

Let therefore your prayer be personal. Even when you say certain indulgence and liturgical prayers, hearken to God. Be attentive to Him.

If you are not attentive to Him as a person, how can you expect Him to hearken to you?

If you look around when someone else is in the room whom you ought to be addressing, do you feel you have a claim upon His favors? And so it is with God. Pray out of your heart.


And fifth: every now and then, cut out the dead wood of prayer. Over a long period of time, you will fall into certain habits and certain routines and you become so used to them that they lack fervor. Do not be afraid to say, “All right, I’m going to get out of this jungle.  I am going to start all over again.” God will not be angry with you. As a matter of fact, such an attitude may freshen your prayers and make them more personal.


Another suggestionalways let the motive of your prayer be love. St. Augustine once said, “Give me a man who has been loved and I will tell him what God is.” Whatever lovers say to one another, that you say to God. And think not, therefore, of your relationship to Him as being that of a servant to a master, but as a lover to the beloved.


Then, seven: keep all of your prayers fresh by praying out of your heart, by praying out of the inspiration of love. Then your prayers will be something like a fourth century lyric which a husband by the name of Asoneus wrote to his wife: “Wife, let us live as we have lived, nor ever lose the little names that were the first night’s graces.”  It takes a great deal of effort in marriage. To keep up the freshness of love, sacrifices have to be sprinkled through a marriage. And so, too, every now and then, when love becomes routine, we freshen it by a sacrifice.

  • No one ever rises to a higher level of love without a death to a lower one.


And finally, do not let all of your prayers be like blueprints which you bring to God and ask Him to rubber stamp. Remember, that God has an intelligence and a plan for your own life which is far better than the one you have. A little baby may cry for taffy, but the mother will not give the baby taffy.  A boy of six wants a shotgun, but the father will not give the boy of six a shotgun. There are some things that are not good for us, and God’s answer to prayer sometimes is no. A little girl once prayed for a thousand dolls for Christmas. An unbelieving father said to her on Christmas, “well, God didn’t answer your prayers, did He?”, and the little girl said, “Yes, God said no.”



So when you pray to God, say something like this, I mean in petitionary prayer:

‘Dear Lord, there is something I want. I need it badly. I hope I want it for Thy glory. I hope it’s best for my salvation. You know what it is. Maybe it is not good for me, or else you would have given it to me long before this. But, just in case you are waiting for me to ask you again, well, I’m asking for it. You will know best what to do. Thanks.’


And in conclusion, may we suggest two special forms of prayer,

  1. one, the Rosary, and
  2. two, silent meditation.


First of all, the rosary.

The Rosary is almost like words with music. It combines the physical, the moving of the beads through the fingers; the mental, the meditation on the joyful, the sorrowful and the glorious mysteries of our Lord and His blessed mother. And finally, something vocal, namely saying our prayers with our lips.


There was once a young lady who said to me, ‘I think a rosary is monotonous, and I don’t think God likes for us to say monotonous prayers.’  I said to her, ‘Who is that man with you?’  She said, “That is my fiancé.’  I said, ‘Do you love him?’  She said, ‘yes’.   I said, ‘How does he know?’  ‘Well,’ she said, “I told him.’  ‘What did you say?’ I said.  ‘I love you.’ ‘When did you tell him?’ ‘Last night.’ ‘Did you ever tell him before?’ She said, ‘Yes, I told him the night before.’ ‘Well, don’t you think he tires of it? Isn’t it a bit monotonous?’  ‘No.’ Saying that we love is never monotonous because we say it in a new moment of time and in a new place. And so it is with our Rosary.


And finally, silence. 

Take out at least a half an hour a day.  Live above yourself, be within yourself. Have an inward solitude. Fulfill the words of John the Baptist: “He must increase; I must decrease.” (23) And in the language of St. Paul, you will say that your life is hidden with Christ in God. Through prayer and contemplation, you can say, as St. Bernard said to Pope Eugenius, “Tuus esto ubi que”.

Always belong to yourself, and then you will belong to God.

God love you.

1. In today’s lesson on – Prayer
what stood out the most to you?



2. Why do you think Bishop Sheen gave the subtitle “Prayer is a Dialogue ” to this lesson?



3. How would you explain to someone seeking a deeper understanding on the Church’s teaching on the Prayer.



4. Now that you have learned more about – Prayer
what changes do you think this will have in your daily life?


3. “Those who with God’s help have welcomed Christ’s call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and PRAYER.[Cf. Acts 2:42 .] ”
13. “The plan of this catechism is inspired by the great tradition of catechisms which build catechesis on four pillars: the baptismal profession of faith (the Creed), the sacraments of faith, the life of faith (the Commandments), and the PRAYER of the believer (the Lord’s PRAYER). ”
17. “The last part of the Catechism deals with the meaning and importance of PRAYER in the life of believers (Section One). It concludes with a brief commentary on the seven petitions of the Lord’s PRAYER (Section Two), for indeed we find in these the sum of all the good things which we must hope for, and which our heavenly Father wants to grant us. ”
(Prayer – ability to pray is always possible )
2743. “It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise.[Cf. Mt 28:20 ; Lk 8:2 .4.] Our time is in the hands of God:
It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, . . . while buying or selling, . . . or even while cooking.[St. John Chrysostom, Ecloga de oratione 2: PG 63, 585.] ”
(Prayer – definition )
2559. ” ‘Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.'[St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 3, 24: PG 94,1089C.] But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or ‘out of the depths’ of a humble and contrite heart?[Ps 130:1 .] He who humbles himself will be exalted;[Cf. Lk 18:9-14 .] humility is the foundation of prayer,
Only when we humbly acknowledge that ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought,'[Rom 8:26 .] are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer.
‘Man is a beggar before God.'[St. Augustine, Sermo 56, 6, 9: PL 38, 381.]”

(God call to Prayer)
2567. “God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation. ”

(God hears our prayer)
1127. “Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify.[Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1605; DS 1606.] They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. The Father always hears the prayer of his Son’s Church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the Spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power. ”
2737. “‘You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.'[Jam 4:3 ; cf. the whole context: Jam 4:1-10 ; Jam 1:5-8 ; Jam 5:16 .] If we ask with a divided heart, we are ‘adulterers’;[Jam 4:4 .] God cannot answer us, for he desires our well-being, our life. ‘Or do you suppose that it is in vain that the scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us?”[Jam 4:5 .] That our God is ‘jealous’ for us is the sign of how true his love is. If we enter into the desire of his Spirit, we shall be heard.
Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.[Evagrius Ponticus, De oratione 34: PG 79, 1173.]
God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give.[St. Augustine, Ep. 130, 8, 17: PL 33, 500.]”

(Perseverance in prayer)
2742. “‘Pray constantly . . . always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.'[1 Thess 5:17; Eph 5:20 .] St. Paul adds, ‘Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints.'[Eph 6:18 .] For ‘we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing.'[Evagrius Ponticus, Pract. 49: PG 40, 1245C.] This tireless fervor can come only from love. Against our dullness and laziness, the battle of prayer is that of humble, trusting, and persevering love. This love opens our hearts to three enlightening and life-giving facts of faith about prayer.”
2582. “Elijah is the ‘father’ of the prophets, ‘the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.'[Ps 24:6 .] Elijah’s name, ‘The Lord is my God,’ foretells the people’s cry in response to his prayer on Mount Carmel.[1 Kings 18:39 .] St. James refers to Elijah in order to encourage us to pray: ‘The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.'[Jam 5:16b-18 .]”

(Prayer is a vital necessity)
2744. “Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin.[Cf. Gal 5:16-25 .] How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?
Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy…. For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin.[St. John Chrysostom, De Anna 4, 5: PG 54, 666.]
Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned[St. Alphonsus Liguori, Del gran Mezzo della preghiera.] ”

(Praying each and everyday)
2659. “We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us. Jesus’ teaching about praying to our Father is in the same vein as his teaching about providence:[Cf. Mt 6:11, 34 .] time is in the Father’s hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today: ‘O that today you would hearken to his voice! Harden not your hearts.'[Ps 95:7-8 .]”
2660. “Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the kingdom revealed to ‘little children,’ to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the Beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom.[Cf. Lk 13:20-21 .]”
(Difficulties in praying)
2731. “Another difficulty, especially for those who sincerely want to pray, is dryness. Dryness belongs to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb. ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if dies, it bears much fruit.'[Jn 12:24 .] If dryness is due to the lack of roots, because the word has fallen on rocky soil, the battle requires conversion.[Cf. Lk 8:6, 13 .]”
2735. “In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions. What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? ”
2736. “Are we convinced that ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought’?[Rom 8:26 .] Are we asking God for ‘what is good for us’? Our Father knows what we need before we ask him,[Cf. Mt 6:8 .] but he awaits our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their freedom. We must pray, then, with his Spirit of freedom, to be able truly to know what he wants.[Cf. Rom 8:27 .]”
2737. “‘You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.'[Jam 4:3 ; cf. the whole context: Jam 4:1-10 ; Jam 1:5-8 ; Jam 5:16 .] If we ask with a divided heart, we are ‘adulterers’;[Jam 4:4 .] God cannot answer us, for he desires our well-being, our life. ‘Or do you suppose that it is in vain that the scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us?”[Jam 4:5 .] That our God is ‘jealous’ for us is the sign of how true his love is. If we enter into the desire of his Spirit, we shall be heard.
Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.[Evagrius Ponticus, De oratione 34: PG 79, 1173.]
God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give.[St. Augustine, Ep. 130, 8, 17: PL 33, 500.]”
2754. “The principal difficulties in the practice of prayer are distraction and dryness. The remedy lies in faith, conversion, and vigilance of heart. ”

(Expressions and forms of prayer)
2644. “The Holy Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus said also instructs her in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise. ”
2663. “In the living tradition of prayer, each Church proposes to its faithful, according to its historic, social, and cultural context, a language for prayer: words, melodies, gestures, iconography. The Magisterium of the Church[Cf. DV 10.] has the task of discerning the fidelity of these ways of praying to the tradition of apostolic faith; it is for pastors and catechists to explain their meaning, always in relation to Jesus Christ. ”
2684. “In the communion of saints, many and varied spiritualities have been developed throughout the history of the churches. The personal charism of some witnesses to God’s love for men has been handed on, like ‘the spirit’ of Elijah to Elisha and John the Baptist, so that their followers may have a share in this spirit.[Cf. 2 Kings 2:9 ; Lk 1:1 ; PC 2.] A distinct spirituality can also arise at the point of convergence of liturgical and theological currents, bearing witness to the integration of the faith into a particular human environment and its history. The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are essential guides for the faithful. In their rich diversity they are refractions of the one pure light of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is truly the dwelling of the saints and the saints are for the Spirit a place where he dwells as in his own home since they offer themselves as a dwelling place for God and are called his temple.[St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, 26, 62: PG 32, 184.]”
(Contemplative Prayer)
2709. “What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: ‘Contemplative prayer (oracion mental) in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.'[St. Teresa of Jesus, The Book of Her Life, 8, 5 in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976), I, 67.]
Contemplative prayer seeks him ‘whom my soul loves.'[Song 1:7 ; cf. Song 3:14 .] It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.”
2710. “The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty ant in faith. ”
2711. “Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we ‘gather up:’ the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed.”
2712. “Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.[Cf. Lk 7:36-50 ; Lk 19:1-10 .] But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son. ”
2713. “Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts.[Cf. Jer 31:33 .] Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, ‘to his likeness.'”
2714. “Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through his Spirit ‘that Christ may dwell in (our) hearts through faith’ and we may be ‘grounded in love.'[Eph 3:16-17 .]”
2715. “Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. ‘I look at him and he looks at me’: this is what a certain peasant of Ars used to say to his holy cure about his prayer before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the ‘interior knowledge of our Lord,’ the more to love him and follow him.[Cf. St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 104.]”
2716. “Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the ‘Yes’ of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God’s lowly handmaid.”
2717. “Contemplative prayer is silence, the ‘symbol of the world to come'[Cf. St. Isaac of Nineveh, Tract. myst. 66.] or ‘silent love.'[St. John of the Cross, Maxims and Counsels, 53 in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 678.] Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the ‘outer’ man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.”
2718. “Contemplative prayer is a union with the prayer of Christ insofar as it makes us participate in his mystery. The mystery of Christ is celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in contemplative prayer so that our charity will manifest it in our acts. ”
2719. “Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. The Paschal night of the Resurrection passes through the night of the agony and the tomb – the three intense moments of the Hour of Jesus which his Spirit (and not ‘the flesh (which) is weak’) brings to life in prayer. We must be willing to ‘keep watch with (him) one hour.'[Cf. Mt 26:40 .]”
2724. “Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery. ”
(Jesus teaches how to pray)
2601. “‘He was praying in a certain place and when he had ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.”[Lk 11:1 .] In seeing the Master at prayer the disciple of Christ also wants to pray. By contemplating and hearing the Son, the master of prayer, the children learn to pray to the Father.”
2603. “The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes.[Cf. Mt 11:25-27 and Lk 10:21-23 .] His exclamation, ‘Yes, Father!’ expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father’s ‘good pleasure,’ echoing his mother’s Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.[Cf. Eph 1:9 .]”
2604. “The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John.[Cf. Jn 11:41-42 .] Thanksgiving precedes the event: ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me,’ which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: ‘I know that you always hear me,’ which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the ‘treasure’; in him abides his Son’s heart; the gift is given ‘as well.'[Mt 6:21, 33 .] The priestly prayer of Jesus holds a unique place in the economy of salvation.[Cf. Jn 17 .] A meditation on it will conclude Section One. It reveals the ever present prayer of our High Priest and, at the same time, contains what he teaches us about our prayer to our Father, which will be developed in Section Two.”
2607. “When Jesus prays he is already teaching us how to pray. His prayer to his Father is the theological path (the path of faith, hope, and charity) of our prayer to God. But the Gospel also gives us Jesus’ explicit teaching on prayer. Like a wise teacher he takes hold of us where we are and leads us progressively toward the Father. Addressing the crowds following him, Jesus builds on what they already know of prayer from the Old Covenant and opens to them the newness of the coming Kingdom. Then he reveals this newness to them in parables. Finally, he will speak openly of the Father and the Holy Spirit to his disciples who will be the teachers of prayer in his Church. ”
(Jesus insist on the conversion of the heart)
2608. “From the Sermon on the Mount onwards, Jesus insists on conversion of heart: reconciliation with one’s brother before presenting an offering on the altar, love of enemies, and prayer for persecutors, prayer to the Father in secret, not heaping up empty phrases, prayerful forgiveness from the depths of the heart, purity of heart, and seeking the Kingdom before all else.[Cf. Mt 5:23-24, 44-45 ; Mt 6:7,14-15, 21, 25, 33 .] This filial conversion is entirely directed to the Father. ”
(Prayer and the Christian Life)
2564. “Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ.
It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man. ”
2565. “In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.
The grace of the Kingdom is ‘the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity . . . with the whole human spirit.'[St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio, 16, 9: PG 35, 945.]
Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him.
This communion of life is always possible because, through Baptism, we have already been united with Christ.[Cf. Rom 6:5 .]
Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with Christ and extends throughout the Church, which is his Body.
Its dimensions are those of Christ’s love.[Cf. Eph 3:18-21 .]”

(Prayer in the Holy Spirit)
2615. “Even more, what the Father gives us when our prayer is united with that of Jesus is ‘another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.'[Jn 14:16-17 .] This new dimension of prayer and of its circumstances is displayed throughout the farewell discourse.[Cf. Jn 14:23-26 ; Jn 15:7, 16 ; Jn 16:13-15 ; Jn 16:23-27 .] In the Holy Spirit, Christian prayer is a communion of love with the Father, not only through Christ but also in him: ‘Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.'[Jn 16:24 .]”
(Holy Spirit intercedes for us)
688. “The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit:
– in the Scriptures he inspired;
– in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses;
– in the Church’s Magisterium, which he assists;
– in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;
– in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;
– in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;
– in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;
– in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation. ”
741. “‘The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.'[Rom 8:26 .] The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God’s works, is the master of prayer. (This will be the topic of Part Four.)”

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