Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lord, Teach us to Pray (Part II)

The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you. (John 14:26)

The Catechism opens up the Scriptures to us.
Read Scripture and the Catechism together daily!
James Tissot, "The Lord's Prayer" 1886-96

on Prayer in the Christian Life 

2598 The drama of prayer is fully revealed to us in the Word who became flesh and dwells among us. To seek to understand his prayer through what his witnesses proclaim to us in the Gospel is to approach the holy Lord Jesus as Moses approached the burning bush: first to contemplate him in prayer, then to hear how he teaches us to pray, in order to know how he hears our prayer. 

Prayer requires conversion and faith

2607 When Jesus prays, he is already teaching us how to pray. His prayer to his Father is the theological path (the path of faith, hope, and charity) of our prayer to God. But the Gospel also gives us Jesus' explicit teaching on prayer. Like a wise teacher he takes hold of us where we are and leads us progressively toward the Father. Addressing the crowds following him, Jesus builds on what they already know of prayer from the Old Covenant and opens to them the newness of the coming Kingdom. Then he reveals this newness to them in parables. Finally, he will speak openly of the Father and the Holy Spirit to his disciples who will be the teachers of prayer in his Church.

2608 From the Sermon on the Mount onwards, Jesus insists on conversion of heart: reconciliation with one's brother before presenting an offering on the altar, love of enemies, and prayer for persecutors, prayer to the Father in secret, not heaping up empty phrases, prayerful forgiveness from the depths of the heart, purity of heart, and seeking the Kingdom before all else (Cf. Mt 5:23-24, 44-45; 6:7, 14-15, 21, 25, 33). This filial conversion is entirely directed to the Father.

2609 Once committed to conversion, the heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to "seek" and to "knock," since he himself is the door and the way (Cf. Mt 7:7-11, 13-14).

2610 Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will” (Mk 11:24). Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: "all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23; cf. Mt 21:22). Jesus is as saddened by the "lack of faith" of his own neighbors and the "little faith" of his own disciples (Mk 6:6; Mt 8:26), as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman (Cf. Mt 8:10; 15:28).

2611 The prayer of faith consists not only in saying "Lord, Lord," but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father (Cf. Mt 7:21). Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan (Cf. Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2; Jn 4:34).

Tissot, "He Went Through the Villages on the Way to Jerusalem"
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest"  (Mt 9:38). 

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