Learning about Prayer
What is Prayer?
Prayer is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) as:
The elevation of the mind and heard to God in praise of his glory; a petition made to God for some desired good, or in thanksgiving for a good received, or in intercession for other before God. Though prayer the Christian experiences a communion with God through Christ in the Church. CCC Glossary
The Catechism further describes prayer as communion with God.
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. 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. . . . Its dimensions are those of Christ’s love. CCC 2565
What is the Role of Faith in Prayer?
The Catechism shows us the link between our prayer to God and our faith.
“No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!”‘ This knowledge of faith is possible only in the Holy Spirit: to be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us. By virtue of our Baptism, the first sacrament of the faith, the Holy Spirit in the Church communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us in the Son. CCC 683
We find the definition of faith in Scripture.
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1
The rest of that Chapter documents numerous examples from the Old Testament where key individuals acted in faith, based on the word of God, about things that seemed impossible.
The Catechism defines faith as:
Faith: Both a gift of God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God who invites his response, and freely ascents to the whole truth God has revealed. It is this revelation of God which the Church proposed for our belief, and which we profess in the Creed, celebrate in the sacraments, live by right conduct that fulfills the twofold commandment of charity (as specified in the ten commandments), and respond to in our prayer of faith. Faith is both a theological virtue given by God as a grace, and an obligation which flows from the first commandment of God. CCC Glossary
Faith then becomes the engine that drives our prayers to God. It is our response to the grace of God, that we believe His Word and are willing to take action as the Holy Spirit prompts.
Putting Our Faith into Action
It is our faith in the Word of God that enables us to use the Charisms of the Holy Spirit for the good of others.
- How do we look on the needs of another person who asks for help?
- How can we pray for them if we are not strongly grounded in faith?
- Can we look at them and see not only the pain or suffering they are experiencing, but also see them through the eyes of Christ?
- Can we see the love and compassion He has for them?
If the answer is “yes Lord” I can see, then we can pray effectively for their needs. We can expect that the Charism (graces) we have received, coupled with our faith in the Word of Christ and our fervent pray in the name of Jesus Christ, will be effective.
In the last chapter of the Gospel of Mark, we find Jesus’s parting word to the Apostles before he ascended to heaven.
“He said to them, ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16: 15-18