Yenra : Catholic Prayers : Catechism on Prayer

The fourth and final section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is devoted to the subject of Christian Prayer, composed of a total of 308 paragraphs numbered from 2558 to 2865. The Catechism describes prayer as a "vital and personal relationship with the living and true God" (2558). In answering the question "What is Prayer?", it quotes St. Therese of Lisieux, who described prayer as "a surge of the heart . . . a simple look turned toward heaven . . . a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy" (2558). It also quotes St. John Damascene, who defined prayer as "the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God" (2559). The Catechism describes prayer as God's gift, as covenant, and as communion. It tells that "whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays" (2562) and explains that the heart, mentioned "more than a thousand times" in Scripture, needs to be involved: "If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain" (2562). The Catechism describes the heart as "the place 'to which I withdraw' . . . our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others . . . the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives . . . the place of truth, where we choose life or death . . . the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant" (2563). Our praying and our prayer should, therefore, involve our heart, more than any other part of us. May the prayers that we say involve our hearts as well as our minds and voices, so that we can participate fully in "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" (2565).