Catechism Cath. Church 2589
2590 "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).
2591 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.
2592 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.
2593 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.
2594 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.
2595 The prophets summoned the people to conversion of heart and, while zealously seeking the face of God, like Elijah, they interceded for the people.
2596 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.
2597 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.
2598 The drama of prayer is fully revealed to us in the Word who became flesh and dwells among us. To seek to understand his prayer through what his witnesses proclaim to us in the Gospel is to approach the holy Lord Jesus as Moses approached the burning bush: first to contemplate him in prayer, then to hear how he teaches us to pray, in order to know how he hears our prayer.
2599 The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin also learned to pray according to his human heart. He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother, who kept in her heart and meditated upon all the ‘great things’ done by the Almighty.(41) He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. But his prayer springs from an otherwise secret source, as he intimates at the age of twelve: "I must be in my Father's house."(42) Here the newness of prayer in the fullness of time begins to be revealed: his filial prayer, which the Father awaits from his children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in his humanity, with and for men.
41 Lc 1,49 Lc 2,19 Lc 2,51.
42 Lc 2,49
2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ's ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father's witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father's plan of love by his Passion.(43) He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter's confession of him as "the Christ of God," and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted.(44) Jesus' prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.
43 Lc 3,21 Lc 9,28 Lc 22,41-44.
44 Lc 6,12 Lc 9,18-20 Lc 22,32.
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."'(45) 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.
45 Lc 11,1
2602 Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night.(46) He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself. Jesus, the Word who has become flesh, shares by his human prayer in all that "his brethren" experience; he sympathizes with their weaknesses in order to free them.(47) It was for this that the Father sent him. His words and works are the visible manifestation of his prayer in secret.
46 Mc 1,35 Mc 6,46 Lc 5,16
47 He 2,12-15 He 4,15.
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.(48) 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.(49)
48 Mt 11,25-27 Lc 10,21-23
49 Ep 1,9
2604 The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John.(50) 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."(51) The priestly prayer of Jesus holds a unique place in the economy of salvation.(52) 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.
50 Jn 11,41-42
51 Mt 6,21 Mt 6,33,
52 Jn 17
2605 When the hour had come for him to fulfill the Father's plan of love, Jesus allows a glimpse of the boundless depth of his filial prayer, not only before he freely delivered himself up ("Abba . . . not my will, but yours."),(53) but even in his last words on the Cross, where prayer and the gift of self are but one: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do",(54) "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise", "Woman, behold your son" - "Behold your mother",(56) "I thirst.";(57) "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"(58) "It is finished";(59) "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"(60) until the "loud cry" as he expires, giving up his spirit.(61)
53 Lc 22,42 54 Lc 23,34
55 Lc 23,43
56 Jn 19,26-27
57 Jn 19,28
58 Mc 15,34 Ps 22,2
59 Jn 19,30
60 Lc 23,46
61 Mc 15,37 Jn 19,30
2606 All the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the incarnate Word. Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising his Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation. The Psalter gives us the key to prayer in Christ. In the "today" of the Resurrection the Father says: "You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession."(62)The Letter to the Hebrews expresses in dramatic terms how the prayer of Jesus accomplished the victory of salvation: "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him."(63)
62 Ps 2,7-8 Ac 13,33
63 He 5,7-9
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.
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.(64) This filial conversion is entirely directed to the Father.
64 Mt 5,23-24 Mt 5,44-45 Mt 7,14-15 Mt 7,21-33.
2609 Once committed to conversion, the heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to "seek" and to "knock," since he himself is the door and the way.(65)
65 Mt 7,7-11 Mt 7,13-14
2610 Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will."(66) Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: "all things are possible to him who believes."(67) Jesus is as saddened by the "lack of faith" of his own neighbors and the "little faith" of his own disciples(68) as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman.(69)
66 Mc 11,24
67 Mc 9,23 Mt 21,22
68 Mc 6,6 Mt 8,26
69 Mt 8,10 Mt 15,28.
2611 The prayer of faith consists not only in saying "Lord, Lord," but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father.(70) Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.(71)
70 Mt 7,21
71 Mt 9,38 Lc 10,2 Jn 4,34
2612 In Jesus "the Kingdom of God is at hand."(72) He calls his hearers to conversion and faith, but also to watchfulness. In prayer the disciple keeps watch, attentive to Him Who Is and Him Who Comes, in memory of his first coming in the lowliness of the flesh, and in the hope of his second coming in glory.(73) In communion with their Master, the disciples' prayer is a battle; only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation.(74)
72 Mc 1,15
73 Mc 13 Lc 21,34-36
74 Lc 22,40 Lc 22,46,
2613 Three principal parables on prayer are transmitted to us by St. Luke:- The first, "the importunate friend,"(75) invites us to urgent prayer: "Knock, and it will be opened to you." To the one who prays like this, the heavenly Father will "give whatever he needs," and above all the Holy Spirit who contains all gifts.- The second, "the importunate widow,"(76) is centered on one of the qualities of prayer: it is necessary to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith. "And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"- The third parable, "the Pharisee and the tax collector,"(77) concerns the humility of the heart that prays. "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" The Church continues to make this prayer its own: Kyrie eleison!
75 Lc 11,5-13
76 Lc 18,1-8
77 Lc 18,9-14
2614 When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to "ask in his name."(78) Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is "the way, and the truth, and the life."(79) Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus.(80)
78 Jn 14,13
79 Jn 14,6
80 Jn 14,13-14
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."(81) This new dimension of prayer and of its circumstances is displayed throughout the farewell discourse.(82) 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."(83)
81 Jn 14,16-17
82 Jn 14,23-26 Jn 15,7-16 Jn 16,13-15 Jn 16,23-27. 83 Jn 16,24
2616 Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief)(84) or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman).(85) The urgent request of the blind men, "Have mercy on us, Son of David" or "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" has-been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!"(86) Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: "Your faith has made you well; go in peace."St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus' prayer: "He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore let us acknowledge our voice in him and his in us."(87)
84 Mc 1,40-41 Mc 5,36 Mc 7,29 Lc 23,39-43
85 Mc 25 Mc 5,28 Lc 7,37-38
86 Mt 9,27 Mc 10,48.
87 St. Augustine, En. in Ps 85,1, PL 37, 1081; cf. GILH 7.
2617 Mary's prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father's plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ's conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body.(88) In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made "full of grace" responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be (done) to me according to your word." "Fiat": this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God's, because he is wholly ours.
88 Lc 1,38 Ac 1,14
2618 The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana,(89) the mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast - that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride. It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross,(90) that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true "Mother of all the living."
89 Jn 2,1-12
90 Jn 19,25-27
2619 That is why the Canticle of Mary,(91) the Magnificat (Latin) or Megalynei (Byzantine) is the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church; the song of the Daughter of Zion and of the new People of God; the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured out in the economy of salvation and the song of the "poor" whose hope is met by the fulfillment of the promises made to our ancestors, "to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."
91 Lc 1,46-55
2620 Jesus' filial prayer is the perfect model of prayer in the New Testament. Often done in solitude and in secret, the prayer of Jesus involves a loving adherence to the will of the Father even to the Cross and an absolute confidence in being heard.
2621 In his teaching, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray with a purified heart, with lively and persevering faith, with filial boldness. He calls them to vigilance and invites them to present their petitions to God in his name. Jesus Christ himself answers prayers addressed to him.
2622 The prayers of the Virgin Mary, in her Fiat and Magnificat, are characterized by the generous offering of her whole being in faith.
2623 On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Promise was poured out on the disciples, gathered "together in one place."(92) While awaiting the Spirit, "all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer."(93) The Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls for her everything that Jesus said(94) was also to form her in the life of prayer.
2624 In the first community of Jerusalem, believers "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers."(95) This sequence is characteristic of the Church's prayer: founded on the apostolic faith; authenticated by charity; nourished in the Eucharist.
2625 In the first place these are prayers that the faithful hear and read in the Scriptures, but also that they make their own - especially those of the Psalms, in view of their fulfillment in Christ.(96) The Holy Spirit, who thus keeps the memory of Christ alive in his Church at prayer, also leads her toward the fullness of truth and inspires new formulations expressing the unfathomable mystery of Christ at work in his Church's life, sacraments, and mission. These formulations are developed in the great liturgical and spiritual traditions. The forms of prayer revealed in the apostolic and canonical Scriptures remain normative for Christian prayer.
92 Ac 2,1
93 Ac 1,14
94 Jn 14,26
95 Ac 2,42
96 Lc 24,27,
2626 Blessing expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer: it is an encounter between God and man. In blessing, God's gift and man's acceptance of it are united in dialogue with each other. The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.
2627 TWO fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father - we bless him for having blessed us;(97) it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father - he blesses us.(98)
2628 Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us(99) and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the "King of Glory,"(100) respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God.(101) Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications.
97 Ep 1,3-14 2Co 1,3 2Co 7 1P 1,3-9.
98 2Co 13,14 Rm 15,5-6,13 Ep 6,23-24
99 Ps 95,1-6
100 Ps 24,9-10 Ps 24,
2629 The vocabulary of supplication in the New Testament is rich in shades of meaning: ask, beseech, plead, invoke, entreat, cry out, even "struggle in prayer."(102) Its most usual form, because the most spontaneous, is petition: by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him.
2630 The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church's petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day. Christian petition, what St. Paul calls ("groaning," arises from another depth, that of creation "in labor pains" and that of ourselves "as we wait for the redemption of our bodies.For in this hope we were saved."(103) In the end, however, "with sighs too deep for words" the Holy Spirit "helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words."(104)
2631 The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness, like the tax collector in the parable: "God, be merciful to me a sinner!"(105) It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer. A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that "we receive from him whatever we ask."(106) Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer.
2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.(107) There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.(108) It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer.(109) By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.
2633 When we share in God's saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ, who assumed all things in order to redeem all things, is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name.(110) It is with this confidence that St. James and St. Paul exhort us to pray at all times.(111)
101 Cf. St. Augustine, En. in Ps 62,16, PL 36, 757-758.
102 Rm 15,30 Col 4,12
103 Rm 8,22-24
104 Rm 8,26
105 Lc 18,13
106 1Jn 3,22 1Jn 1,7-2,2.
107 Mt 6,10,
108 Ac 6,6 Ac 13,3.
109 Rm 10,1 Ep 1,16-23 Ph 1911 Col 1,3-6 Col 4,3-12.
110 Jn 14,13 111 Jc 1,5-8 Ep 5,20 Ph 4,6-7 Col 3,16-17 1Th 5,17-18
2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.(112) He is "able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."(113) The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."(114)
2635 Since Abraham, intercession - asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks "not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others," even to the point of praying for those who do him harm.(115)
2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely.(116) Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel(117) but also intercedes for them.(118) The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: "for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions," for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.(119)
112 Rm 8,34 1Jn 2,1 1Tm 2,5-8
113 He 7,25
114 Rm 8,26-27
115 Ph 2,4 Ac 7,60 Lc 23,28,
116 Ac 12,5 Ac 20,36 Ac 21,5 2Co 9,14 117 Ep 6,18-20 Col 4,3-4 1Th 5,25
118 2Th 1,11 Col 1,3 Ph 1,3-4
119 2Tm 2,1 Rm 12,14-10,1.
2637 Thanksgiving characterizes the prayer of the Church which, in celebrating the Eucharist, reveals and becomes more fully what she is. Indeed, in the work of salvation, Christ sets creation free from sin and death to consecrate it anew and make it return to the Father, for his glory. The thanksgiving of the members of the Body participates in that of their Head.
2638 As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"; "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."(120)
120 1Th 5,18 Col 4,2
2639 Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God,(121) testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the "one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist."(122)
2640 St. Luke in his gospel often expresses wonder and praise at the marvels of Christ and in his Acts of the Apostles stresses them as actions of the Holy Spirit: the community of Jerusalem, the invalid healed by Peter and John, the crowd that gives glory to God for that, and the pagans of Pisidia who "were glad and glorified the word of God."(123)
2641 "(Address) one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart."(124) Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.(125) Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this "marvelous work" of the whole economy of salvation.(126)
2642 The Revelation of "what must soon take place," the Apocalypse, is borne along by the songs of the heavenly liturgy(127) but also by the intercession of the "witnesses" (martyrs).(128) The prophets and the saints, all those who were slain on earth for their witness to Jesus, the vast throng of those who, having come through the great tribulation, have gone before us into the Kingdom, all sing the praise and glory of him who sits on the throne, and of the Lamb.(129) In communion with them, the Church on earth also sings these songs with faith in the midst of trial. By means of petition and intercession, faith hopes against all hope and gives thanks to the "Father of lights," from whom "every perfect gift" comes down.(130) Thus faith is pure praise.
2643 The Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer: it is "the pure offering" of the whole Body of Christ to the glory of God's name(131) and, according to the traditions of East and West, it is the "sacrifice of praise."
121 Rm 8,16
122 1Co 8,6
123 Ac 2,47 Ac 3,9 Ac 4,21 Ac 13,48.
124 Ep 5,19 Col 3,16
125 Ph 2,6-11 Col 1,15-20 Ep 5,14 1Tm 3,16 1Tm 6,15-16.
126 Ep 1,3-14 Rm 16,25-27 Ep 3,20-21 Jud 24-25
127 Ap 4,8-11 Ap 5,9-14 Ap 7,10-12.
128 Ap 6,10
129 Ap 18,24 Ap 19,1-8.
130 Jc 1,17
131 Ml 1,11
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.
2645 Because God blesses the human heart, it can in return bless him who is the source of every blessing.
2646 Forgiveness, the quest for the Kingdom, and every true need are objects of the prayer of petition.
2647 Prayer of intercession consists in asking on behalf of another. It knows no boundaries and extends to one's enemies.
2648 Every joy and suffering, every event and need can become the matter for thanksgiving which, sharing in that of Christ, should fill one's whole life: "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1Th 5,18).
2649 Prayer of praise is entirely disinterested and rises to God, lauds him, and gives him glory for his own sake, quite beyond what he has done, but simply because HE IS.
2650 Prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpouring of interior impulse: in order to pray, one must have the will to pray. Nor is it enough to know what the Scriptures reveal about prayer: one must also learn how to pray. Through a living transmission (Sacred Tradition) within "the believing and praying Church,"(1) the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God how to pray.
2651 The tradition of Christian prayer is one of the ways in which the tradition of faith takes shape and grows, especially through the contemplation and study of believers who treasure in their hearts the events and words of the economy of salvation, and through their profound grasp of the spiritual realities they experience.(2)
1 DV 8.
2 Cf. DV 8.
2652 The Holy Spirit is the living water "welling up to eternal life"(3) in the heart that prays. It is he who teaches us to accept it at its source: Christ. Indeed in the Christian life there are several wellsprings where Christ awaits us to enable us to drink of the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God
2653 The Church "forcefully and specially exhorts all the Christian faithful . . . to learn 'the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ' Ph 3,8 by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures.... Let them remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For 'we speak to him when we pray; we listen to him when we read the divine oracles."'(4)
2654 The spiritual writers, paraphrasing Mt 7,7, summarize in this way the dispositions of the heart nourished by the word of God in prayer "Seek in reading and you will find in meditating; knock in mental prayer and it will be opened to you by contemplation."(5)
The Liturgy of the Church
2655 In the sacramental liturgy of the Church, the mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit proclaims, makes present, and communicates the mystery of salvation, which is continued in the heart that prays. The spiritual writers sometimes compare the heart to an altar. Prayer internalizes and assimilates the liturgy during and after its celebration. Even when it is lived out "in secret,"(6) prayer is always prayer of the Church; it is a communion with the Holy Trinity.(7)
The theological virtues
2656 One enters into prayer as one enters into liturgy: by the narrow gate of faith. Through the signs of his presence, it is the Face of the Lord that we seek and desire; it is his Word that we want to hear and keep.
2657 The Holy Spirit, who instructs us to celebrate the liturgy in expectation of Christ's return, teaches us-to pray in hope. Conversely, the prayer of the Church and personal prayer nourish hope in us. The psalms especially, with their concrete and varied language, teach us to fix our hope in God: "I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry."(8) As St. Paul prayed: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."(9)
2658 "Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."(10) Prayer, formed by the liturgical life, draws everything into the love by which we are loved in Christ and which enables us to respond to him by loving as he has loved us. Love is the source of prayer; whoever draws from it reaches the summit of prayer. In the words of the Cure of Ars:l love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you. I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally.... My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath.(11)
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:(12) 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."(13)
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.(14)
3 Jn 4,14
4 DV 25 cf. Ph 3,8 St. Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum 1, 20,88: PL 16, 50.
5 Guigo the Carthusian, Scala Paradisi: PL 40, 998.
6 Mt 6,6
7 GILH 9.
8 Ps 40,2
9 Rm 15,13
10 Rm 5,5
11 St. John Vianney, Prayer.
12 Mt 6,11,
13 Ps 95,7-8
14 Lc 13,20-21
Catechism Cath. Church 2589