Prayer

Lesson 37 from the Baltimore Cathechism

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475. 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)

476. Why do we pray?

We pray:

  1. to adore God, expressing to Him our love and loyalty;
  2. to thank Him for His favors;
  3. to obtain from Him the pardon of our sins and the remission of their punishment;
  4. to ask for graces and blessings for ourselves and others.

Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. (Matthew 26:41)

477. How should we pray?

We should pray:

  1. with attention;
  2. with a conviction of our own helplessness and our dependence upon God;
  3. with a great desire for the graces we beg of Him;
  4. with loving trust in His goodness;
  5. with perseverance.

And all things whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)

478. 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)

479. 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)

480. 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)

481. Are distractions in our prayers always displeasing to God?

Distractions in our prayers are not displeasing to God, unless they are willful.

482. How many kinds of prayer are there?

There are two kinds of prayer: mental prayer and vocal prayer.

483. What is mental prayer?

Mental prayer is that prayer by which we unite our hearts with God while thinking of His holy truths.

For the rest, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever honorable, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable, whatever of good repute, if there be any virtue, if anything worthy of praise, think upon these things. (Philippians 4:8)

484. What is vocal prayer?

Vocal prayer is that prayer which comes from the mind and heart and is spoken by the lips.

With my voice I called upon the Lord, and he hearkened to me from his holy mountain. (Psalm 3:5)

485. May we use our own words in praying to God?

We may use our own words in praying to God, and it is well to do so often.

486. What are the prayers that every Catholic should know by heart?

The prayers that every Catholic should know by heart are: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostles' Creed, the Confiteor, the Glory be to the Father, and the acts of faith, hope, charity, and contrition.

487. How do we usually begin and end our prayers?

We usually begin and end our prayers with the sign of the cross.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)

488. Why do we make the sign of the cross?

We make the sign of the cross to express two important mysteries of the Christian religion, the Blessed Trinity and the Redemption.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)

489. How are these mysteries expressed by the sign of the cross?

When we say "In the name," we express the truth that there is only one God; when we say "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," we express the truth that there are three distinct Persons in God; and when we make the form of the cross on ourselves, we express the truth that the Son of God, made man, redeemed us by His death on the cross.

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