The Parish Catechism, Lesson 05: Prayer

lesson05: prayer“Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

55. What is prayer?

Prayer is simply talking to God, or conversing familiarly with Him.

56. Is prayer necessary?

Prayer is necessary because God commands it, and because without prayer we shall not receive the special graces necessary to persevere in the Christian life.

“We ought always to pray and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1)

“Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41)

57. Why is prayer necessary especially for a person who is taking instructions?

Prayer is especially necessary fox a person who is taking instructions because God will not give you the grace to want or to live the Christian life that is being taught to you in these instructions, unless you ask for this help in prayer.

“For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to ao Complish, according to his good will” (Philippians 2:13)

“After Baptism we need continual prayer in order to enter Heaven” (Saint Thomas Aquinas).

58. Why should we pray?

We should pray:

To adore God.

• To adore God means to acknowledge that God made us and that we depend upon Him for everything.

To thank God.

• “What hast thou that thou hast not received [from God]?” (1 Corinthians 4:17)

To ask God’s pardon for sins committed.

• “For the Lord your God is merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” (2 Paralipomenon 30:9)

To ask God’s blessings for our bodies and souls.

• “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him.” (Psalm 144:18)

59. What is necessary to pray well?

In order to pray well you should pray:

With attention, keeping your mind on God and on your prayer.

With a deep sense of your helplessness and total dependence on God.

“The Lord hath heard my supplication: the Lord hath received my prayer.” (Psalm 6:19)

With trust that God will hear you.

“The Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him.” (Psalm 4:4)

With perseverence. “Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you . . . because of his importunity, he will rise and give him as many as he needeth” (Luke 11:8)

If God does not grant your request for a long time, He may wish to develop in you the habit of prayer. But God hears and answer all prayers.

60. For what should we pray?

We should pray for ourselves and for all our needs of soul and body, for our families, for our friends and enemies, for the rulers of our government, and for the dead, and so forth.

“And all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22)

61. When should we pray?

A general resolution to pray always is not good. It is too vague. Make a resolution to pray at least in the morning, during the day, when in temptation, before going to bed at night.

Whenever possible a family should say its morning and evening prayers together. The habit of saying the blessing before and after meals brings God’s graces to the home and develops the religious atmosphere in the home. The Family Rosary is a beautiful custom that brings many blessings to the home.

62. How can a person pray always?

A person can pray always by offering up all his thoughts, words and actions to Almighty God in the morning and thus making everything he does during the day a prayer.

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

During the day when you are busy you should say short prayers like “My Jesus Mercy,” “Lord, help me,” “God, I offer all to you,” and so forth.

63. To whom should you pray?

You should pray to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to the Blessed Mother, then to the saints and angels.

The saints are people in heaven who understand all our temptations, sins and troubles and are willing and anxious to help us.

64. What is the greatest prayer you can offer to God?

The greatest prayer you can offer to God is the Mass wherein you offer Christ to God.

65. What prayers should you learn by heart?

You should learn by heart:

• The Sign of the Cross.
• The Lord’s Prayer.
• The Hail Mary.
• The Act of Contrition.
• The Acts of Faith, Hope and Love.
• The Apostles’ Creed.
• The Confiteor.

66. Is it all right to pray in your own words?

Prayers said in your own words are often best because they come from the heart. But you should not neglect to learn by heart the prayers listed above.

Many times when your mind is distressed or disturbed it is very difficult to pray in your own words. That is when prayers known by heart will help you lift your mind to God.

67. What is the Rosary?

The Rosary is a powerful and beautiful prayer made up of six Our Fathers and fifty-three Hail Marys. Anyone can easily learn how to say the Rosary. Do not try to use the mysteries of the Rosary until you know how to use the beads.

68. What special opportunities to pray and to develop the habit of prayer are given to us in the Catholic Church?

Your parish church is strictly and exclusively a house of prayer. Mass is offered daily on the altar of that church. You can attend benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary Services, Novenas, Missions. The door of the church is open all day, so that you can kneel before Our Lord in private prayer.

69. Do parents have an obligation to teach their children to pray?

Parents have an obligation to teach their children to pray, to help them to pray, and to give them an example of prayer.

“Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 112:1)

Mothers especially should teach the children to pray as soon as possible. There is no more beautiful sight than that of a mother teaching her children how to talk to God and God’s Mother.

70. Give some suggestions to help a family to pray together.

Say morning and evening prayers on your knees together. Say grace before and after meals. Say the Family Rosary together, perhaps each evening before retiring.

“The family that prays together stays together (Father Peyton)

Attend Mass and receive Holy Communion together. Place some pictures and statues of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and the saints in your home. A crucifix should hang in every bedroom.

Suggestion: Make a little altar or shrine in the home and teach the children to go there to pray.

– from The Parish Catechism, by Father Martin W Farrell, 1954