PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
What Is Prayer? (cont’d)
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 withdraw.” 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 it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. 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 Christ. 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 spirit” (Ora 16, 9: PG 35, 945).
Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the Thrice-Holy God and in communion with Him. This communion of life is always possible because, through Baptism, we have already been united with Christ (cf. Romans 6:5). Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with Christ and extends throughout the Church, which is His Body. Its dimensions are those of Christ’s Love (cf. Ephesians 3:18–21).
Tomorrow – Chapter 1: The Revelation of Prayer
(Part IV, Section 1 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
- “Ora” – St. Gregory of Nazianzus, “Orationes [Prayers]”
- “PG” – “Patrologia Graeca [Greek Patrology]”, an enormous collection of writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers in the Greek language published by J. P. Migne, (Paris, 1857‑1866 A.D.)