3-Life of prayer

Compendium of the Catechism

  • What times are more suitable for prayer?
  • 2697-2698
  • Any time is suitable for prayer but the Church proposes to the faithful certain rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer: morning and evening prayer, prayer before and after meals, the Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Eucharist, the Rosary, and feasts of the liturgical year.



St John Vianney recounts a peculiar case of prayer. A farmer used to visit the Church of Ars, in France, on his way to and from work. Leaving his hoe and bundle at the door, he used to come in and kneel for some time before the Tabernacle. The Saint had been watching him and realized that, although his eyes were fixed on the Tabernacle he did not move his lips. One day the Saint asked the farmer: “Jean, what do you tell the Lord?” And Jean replied “I don’t tell him anything; I look at him and he looks at me.” What a marvellous story to show us how easy it is to pray!

Main ideas

  1. Jesus invites us to pray always

Man is a privileged yet needy creature. We depend on God, who fulfils our needs, and we pray to him, telling him our needs. Jesus continuously turned to his Father, and the Apostles often saw him dedicated to prayer (cf. Luke 5,18; Matthew 14,23). St Luke recalls when “he told them a parable about the need to pray constantly and never lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Jesus, with his example and exhortations, wants us to understand the need for prayer.

  1. When to pray

Usually, if we want to meet an important person we have to wait. But in prayer, God does not make us wait; he is the one who waits for us. It is certainly a great honour to be able to talk to God in prayer. We can always pray to God, but it is a good habit to set aside special times for prayer: when getting up and going to bed, when visiting the Blessed Sacrament in the afternoon, after receiving Holy Communion, before beginning one’s daily work…, all the while remembering that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the moment of highest praise and thanksgiving to God, of petition for forgiveness of our sins, and of placing in God’s hands our needs and those of the whole world.

  1. Ways to pray

It could be said that there are endless ways to pray because God guides each one of us personally and does not wish to “straitjacket” anyone. Nevertheless, Christian tradition distinguishes the following principal kinds of prayer:

  1. a) Vocal prayer. Prayer during which we pronounce the words, such as when saying the Our Father or the Hail Mary.
  2. b) Mental prayer. In fact, all prayer is – or ought to be – mental, for the soul of prayer is interior devotion. We call it mental prayer because, rather than mere words or formulas, talking with God requires active engagement of the mind. Thought, imagination, feelings and desires all intervene, as we face the divine truths with our real and personal existence in order to adapt it to God’s will.
  1. Attributes of prayer

When talking with God we have to take care of those details of respect and tact that are part of common courtesy when dealing with other people. Thus, prayer well done is:

Pious: We have to pray like children, because before God that is what we are.

Humble: We are in constant need of God, and all the more so since we are sinners.

Confident: God loves us as a Father; trusting him, we know he will give us what is best.

Persevering: Pray time and time again, tirelessly and without ever becoming discouraged.

At times we may feel that God does not grant us what we pray. We should examine our prayer to see if we pray for what is appropriate for our salvation, and if we pray with the attitudes mentioned above. Maybe we do not pray well, or we do not behave well, or we ask for inappropriate things.

  1. The value of prayer

As we get used to praying we unite ourselves more and more to God, we understand better his plans for us and for others, and we direct the things of this world towards their proper place. Through prayer we are strengthened in our struggle to conquer evil and do good, and to face the difficulties of life with serenity and joy. Through it we obtain grace to be faithful to Christ till the end, cooperating with him for the redemption of the world and the salvation of souls.

Resolutions for Christian life

Resolutions to move forward

  • Turn to God in every circumstance: in joy and sorrow, in abundance and in need.
  • Set aside a few minutes every day for mental prayer.
  • Strive to say our vocal prayers with piety and trust.
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