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Christian Prayer

649

2701

Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life.

To his disciples, drawn by their Master’s silent prayer, Jesus

teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud

the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show,

he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant

blessing of the Father to the agony of Gethsemani.

3

2702

The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corre­

sponds to a requirement of our human nature. We are body and

spirit, and we experience the need to translate our feelings exter­

nally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power

possible to our supplication.

2703

This need also corresponds to a divine requirement. God

seeks worshippers in Spirit and in Truth, and consequently living

prayer that rises from the depths of the soul. He also wants the

external expression that associates the body with interior prayer,

for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.

2704

Because it is external and so thoroughly human, vocal prayer

is the form of prayer most readily accessible to groups. Even interior

prayer, however, cannot neglect vocal prayer. Prayer is internalized

to the extent that we become aware of him “to whom we speak.”

4

Thus vocal prayer becomes an initial form of contemplative prayer.

II.

M

editation

2705

Meditation is above all a quest. Themind seeks to understand

the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond

to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to

sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want

for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, li­

turgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers,

works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history—

the page on which the “today” of God is written.

2706

To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own

by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the

book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that

we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the

3 Cf.

Mt

11:25-26;

Mk

14:36.

4 St. Teresa of Jesus,

The Way of Perfection

26, 9 in

The Collected Works of St.

Teresa of Avila,

tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD

(Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1980), II, 136.

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