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Chapter 35. God Calls Us to Pray • 463


“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look

turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of

love, embracing both trial and joy.”

—CCC, no. 2558, citing St. Thérèse of Lisieux,

Manuscrits Autobiographiques

, C 25r

Descriptions of prayer are abundant throughout Christian history. “True

prayer,” wrote St. Augustine, “is nothing but love.” Prayer should arise

from the heart. “Prayer,” said St. John Vianney, “is the inner bath of love

into which the soul plunges itself.”

“Everyone of us needs half an hour

of prayer each day,” remarked St. Francis de Sales, “except when we are

busy—then we need an hour.” Definitions of prayer are important, but

insufficient. There is a huge difference between knowing about prayer

and praying. On this issue, the Rule of St. Benedict is clear: “If a man

wants to pray, let him go and pray.”

St. John Damascene gave a classic definition of prayer: “Prayer is the

raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things

from God” (CCC, no. 2559, citing St. John Damascene,

De Fide Orth


3, 24).



clearly defines prayer as a “vital and personal rela-

tionship with the living and true God” (CCC, no. 2558). Prayer is

Christian “insofar as it is communion with Christ” (CCC, no. 2565),

and a “covenant relationship between God and man in Christ” (CCC,

no. 2564).

It is important to remember that all of Part Two of the


also deals with prayer as it is found in the celebration of the Sacraments

and in the Liturgy of the Hours. Liturgical prayer, which is the action of

the Church, joins us to Christ, interceding with the Father—in the Holy

Spirit—on behalf of our salvation.

We should consider Part Four’s reflection on the foundations of

prayer and the meaning of the Our Father as essentially related to litur-

gical prayer and a basic complement to it. Because catechetical teach-

ing may never be disconnected from prayer, which is the soul of truth,