What is prayer?

Prayer is turning the heart toward God. When a person prays, he enters into a living relationship with God. Prayer is the great gate leading into faith. Someone who prays no longer lives on his own, for himself, and by his own strength. He knows there is a God to whom he can talk. People who pray entrust themselves more and more to God. Even now they seek union with the one whom they will encounter one day face to face. Therefore, the effort to pray daily is part of Christian life. Of course, one cannot learn to pray in the same way one learns a technique. As strange as it sounds, prayer is a gift one obtains through prayer.

We pray because we are full of an infinite longing and God has created us men for himself: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (St. Augustine). But we pray also because we need to; Mother Teresa says, “Because I cannot rely on myself, I rely on him, twenty-four hours a day.” Often we forget God, run away from him and hide. Whether we avoid thinking about God or deny that he is always there for us. He seeks us before we seek him; he yearns for us, he calls us. You speak with your conscience and suddenly notice that you are speaking with God. You feel lonely, have no one to talk with, and then sense that God is always available to talk. You are in danger and experience that a cry for help is answered by God. Praying is as human as breathing, eating, and loving. Praying purifies. Praying makes it possible to resist temptations. Praying strengthens us in our weakness. Praying removes fear, increases energy, and gives a second wind. Praying makes one happy.

“”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) 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).” (CCC 2559)

“”If you knew the gift of God!” (Jn 4:10) The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him (cf. St. Augustine, De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus.” (CCC 2560)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s