What Is Prayer?

Fr. Michael offers an explanation of what prayer is. This is the first of a four-part series on prayer.
by Fr. Michael Sliney, LC | Source: Catholic.net

This week I will begin my 4 part series on prayer in which we will look at the following points:  What is prayer?  Why is it so important?  How should we pray?  Difficulties and dangers in prayer.

1.  What is prayer?  
-  “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.” (St. Therese of Lisieux, Manuscrits autobiographiques, C 25r) 
-  Prayer (for me personally) is a conversation with my best friend, my brother and my King, Jesus Christ.  It is not a monologue or a “quiet time” or a time simply to analyze and reflect on things, but a real “back and forth” dialogue from the heart with someone who loves me very much and has a very concrete plan for my life.
-   “The life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him, it is the elevation of the soul to God.”  (St. John Damascene, The Orthodox Faith, III, 24).  Prayer is all about putting ourselves in union with God, to unite ourselves intimately to him.

2. “God calls man first.  
-  Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer.  In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2567).  Christ wants so badly to spend time with us in prayer, he wants to console us, to strengthen us, to remind us who we are and why we are here! As we contemplate Christ, we must never forget that he is also contemplating us with intense love.  

You can email Fr. Michael at

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