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Definition of Prayer
“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” St. John Damascene in Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2590
Prayer is “The voluntary response to the awareness of God’s presence. This response may be an acknowledgment of God’s greatness and of a person’s total dependence on him (adoration), or gratitude for his benefits to oneself and others (thanksgiving), or sorrow for sins committed and begging for mercy (expiation), or asking for graces needed (petition), or affection for God, who is all good (love).” Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John Hardon
Prayer from the Baltimore Catechism
What is prayer?
Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God.
Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to the Lord in the heavens. (Lamentations 3:41)
Why do we pray?
- to adore God, expressing to Him our love and loyalty;
- to thank Him for His favors;
- to obtain from Him the pardon of our sins and the remission of their punishment;
- to ask for graces and blessings for ourselves and others.
Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. (Matthew 26:41)
How should we pray?
We should pray:
- with attention;
- with a conviction of our own helplessness and our dependence upon God;
- with a great desire for the graces we beg of Him;
- with loving trust in His goodness;
- with perseverance.
And all things whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)
For whom should we pray?
We should pray especially for ourselves, for our parents, relatives, friends, and enemies, for sinners, for the souls in purgatory, for the Pope, bishops, and priests of the Church, and for the officials of our country.
But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45)
How do we know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly?
We know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly because Our Lord has promised: “If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you.”
And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
Why do we not always obtain what we pray for?
We do not always obtain what we pray for, either because we have not prayed properly or because God sees that what we are asking would not be for our good.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it upon your passions. (James 4:3)
The Saints on Prayer
“He who prays most receives most.” Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” Saint Augustine of Hippo
“We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone.” Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
“Without prayer nothing good is done. God’s works are done with our hands joined, and on our knees. Even when we run, we must remain spiritually kneeling before Him.” Saint Luigi Orione
“Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.” Saint John Vianney
“What prayer could be more true before God the Father than that which the Son, who is Truth, uttered with His own lips?” Saint John Chrysostom
“Have confidence in prayer. It is the unfailing power which God has given us. By means of it you will obtain the salvation of the dear souls whom God has given you and all your loved ones. ‘Ask and you shall receive,’ Our Lord said. Be yourself with the good Lord.” Saint Peter Julian Eymard
“Purity is the fruit of prayer.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta
“There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.” Saint Teresa of Avila