Catechism of the Catholic Church
Part Four: Christian Prayer
Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
"Great is the mystery of the faith!"
The Church professes this
mystery in the Apostles' Creed (Part One) and celebrates it in the
sacramental liturgy (Part Two), so that the life of the faithful may be
conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father
This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in
it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and
personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is
For me, prayer is a surge of the heart;
it is a simple look turned toward
it is a cry of recognition and of love,
embracing both trial and
Prayer as God's gift
2559 "Prayer is the raiSing of one's mind and heart to God or the
requesting of good things from God."
But when we pray, do we speak from
the height of our pride and will, or "out of the depths" of a humble and
He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is
the foundation of prayer,
Only when we humbly acknowledge that "we do not
know how to pray as we ought," are we ready to receive freely the gift
"Man is a beggar before God."
2560 "If you knew the gift of God!"
The wonder of prayer is revealed
beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet
every human being.
It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink.
Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us.
Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with
ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.
2561 "You would have asked him, and he would have given you living
Paradoxically our prayer of petition is a response to the plea
of the living God:
"They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters,
and hewn out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no
Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of
salvation and also a response of love to the thirst of the only Son of
Prayer as covenant
2562 Where does prayer come from?
Whether prayer is expressed in words or
gestures, it is the whole man who prays.
But in naming the source of
prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most
often of the heart (more than a thousand times).
According to Scripture,
it is the heart that prays.
If our heart is far from God, the words of
prayer are in vain.
2563 The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according
to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place "to which I
The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason
and of others;
only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know
The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic
It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death.
It is the
place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation:
it is the
place of covenant.
2564 Christian Prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in
It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the
Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with
the human will of the Son of God made man.
Prayer as communion
2565 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
Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the
presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him.
of life is always possible because, through Baptism, we have already been
united with Christ.
Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion
with Christ and extends throughout the Church, which is his Body.
dimensions are those of Christ's love.
St. Therese of Lisieux, Manuscrits autobiographiques, C 25r.
St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 3, 24: PG 94,1089C.
Cf. Lk 18:9-14.
St. Augustine, Sermo 56, 6, 9: PL 38, 381.
Cf. St. Augustine De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus 64, 4: PL
Cf. Jn 7:37-39; 19:28; Isa 12:3; 51:1; Zech 12:10; 13:1.
St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio, 16, 9: PG 35, 945.
Cf. Rom 6:5.
Cf. Eph 3:18-21.