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Chapter 36. Jesus Taught Us to Pray • 491



reminds us that the Lord Jesus asks us to believe in

order to pray and to pray in order to believe. There is a complementar-

ity in which knowing and loving God support each other. Belief in the

Father, Son, and Spirit should be essentially and immediately connected

to a prayerful and loving communion with the Trinity.

Belief in Catholic doctrine draws us to prayer and to a divine reas-

surance about the validity of these revealed truths of God to which we

have responded in faith. We give ourselves to prayer to deepen our per-

sonal relationship with God in a loving communion. Experiencing God

in prayer shows us the vitality of the truthfulness of doctrine and puts

energy into our spiritual and moral witness.

Just as the understanding of doctrine requires study and effort, so

also does the practice of prayer. “Prayer is both a gift of grace and a

determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort” (CCC,

no. 2725). Since prayer is a loving relationship with God, it places

demands upon us. No love exists without sacrifice.

In our busy culture, time has become one of our most precious pos-

sessions. Of all the things we can give to the ones we love, among the best

is our time. Often something else must be sacrificed to make this possible.

When it comes to prayer, we must choose regular times for prayer

each day. We need to step aside from the rush of daily life and compose

our souls before God, as Jesus did when he spent time with his Father.

How do we know when we really begin to pray? The different kinds

of prayer have already been noted: liturgical and private; vocal, medita-

tive, and contemplative prayer. Underneath all these forms should be our

hearts actively opening to God.

Where does prayer come from? . . . 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


that prays. If our heart is far from

God, the words of prayer are in vain. (CCC, no. 2562)

In the biblical or Semitic mind, the heart is beyond the grasp of rea-

son and deeper than our psychic drives. It is the very center of our selves,

the mysterious place where we make our fundamental decisions. It is the