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648

Part Four

C

hapter

T

hree

T

he

L

ife of

P

rayer

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Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at

every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all.

This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life in the Deuteronomic and

prophetic traditions insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often

awakened by the memory of the heart: “We must remember God

more often than we draw breath.”

1

But we cannot pray “at all times”

if we do not pray at specific times, consciouslywilling it. These are the

special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration.

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The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain

rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer. Some are

daily, such as morning and evening prayer, grace before and after

meals, the Liturgy of the Hours. Sundays, centered on the Eucha-

rist, are kept holy primarily by prayer. The cycle of the liturgical

year and its great feasts are also basic rhythms of the Christian’s life

of prayer.

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The Lord leads all persons by paths and in ways pleasing

to him, and each believer responds according to his heart’s resolve

and the personal expressions of his prayer. However, Christian

Tradition has retained three major expressions of prayer: vocal,

meditative, and contemplative. They have one basic trait in com-

mon: composure of heart. This vigilance in keeping the Word and

dwelling in the presence of God makes these three expressions

intense times in the life of prayer.

A

rticle

1

EXPRESSIONS OF PRAYER

I.

V

ocal

P

rayer

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Through his Word, God speaks to man. By words, mental

or vocal, our prayer takes flesh. Yet it is most important that the

heart should be present to him to whomwe are speaking in prayer:

“Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number

of words, but on the fervor of our souls.”

2

1 St. Gregory of Nazianzus,

Orat. theo.

, 27, 1, 4: PG 36, 16.

2 St. John Chrysostom,

Ecloga de oratione

2: PG 63, 585.

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