Prayer in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #4

January 14, 1995
Brother John Raymond

	Well, we had a little break at Christmas but I would like to
 continue discussing the Catechism and what it says about prayer. We
 have already seen how prayer is a gift, a covenant and communion.
 Now we move into the universal call to prayer and trace it through
 salvation history.
	I was just reading an interesting article about a married couple.
 The wife kept feeling like "something was missing" in their
 marriage. They loved each other. They seemed to have everything that
 would make for a happy marriage. What could this missing something
 be? Both of them had been raised Catholic but had stopped practicing
 their Faith. The void the wife felt was filled when she started
 practicing her faith again. Her husband also returned to the Faith.
	Is this woman's feeling of emptiness or void a common experience?
 We were brought into existence by a loving God. We retain the desire
 for the One who called us into existence. "All religions bear
 witness to men's essential search for God." (#2566) St. Augustine is
 often quoted in this regard. He said that his heart was restless
 until it rested in God.
	Are we really looking for God - or is it the reverse? When we
 look back to Adam and Eve in the Garden we are told that, after
 sinning, they hid from God. Yet, God is depicted as looking for
 them. Who is looking for whom? "The living and true God tirelessly
 calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer."
 (#2567) As God reveals Himself over time to a person he reciprocates
 with prayer. This covenant drama between God and a person or God and
 a nation can be seen throughout the whole history of salvation. This
 covenant makes our relationship with God very concrete. Our God
 reveals Himself in history - the world's and each person's.
	Prayer, as described in the first nine chapters of the Book of
 Genesis, is very much caught up in God and His creation. For
 example, Noah "walks with God." Noah is pleasing to God because his
 heart is upright and undivided. Noah is blessed for this and through
 him all creation, as creation is spared from total destruction by
 the Flood because of him. So there is an interplay between
 ourselves, God and creation. All are caught up in the covenant
 relationship. Some years ago a man visited our monastery. He was
 seeking some moral guidance - but He didn't believe in God. We
 walked through the beautiful woods discussing his dilemma. Without
 my initiating it this atheist all of a sudden said that he really
 felt the presence of God walking through the woods. Coincidence?
	This leads us to the beginning of any life of prayer - faith. One
 man more than any other in the Old Testament was an example of faith
 - Abraham. He is referred to as "our father in faith." Abraham
 responded with obedience to the Word of God. "Such attentiveness of
 the heart, whose decisions are made according to God's will, is
 essential to prayer, while the words used count only in relation to
 it." (#2570) Abraham's obedience is a reminder to us of fidelity to
 the Word of God. This fidelity requires the yielding of our
 intellect and will in faith to God Who reveals Himself, both to us
 personally and through His Church. Abraham gives us a wonderful
 example of intercessory prayer in his supplications for the people
 of Sodom and Gomorrah. (cf. Gen. 18:16-33)
	Certainly the sections we are looking at in the Catechism contain
 much more material for thought than we can comment on here. But with
 the material on prayer we have covered let us look into our own
 prayer lives and see where perhaps we could improve. Let us look to
 the great Old Testament men and women of prayer to help us do this.