Jesus in today’s gospel reading from the gospel of Saint Luke 11:1-13 teaches his disciples what prayer is, the components of prayer, how to pray and the characteristics of prayer. Prayer is a very essential and important part of our lives as Catholic Christians. It is the lifeline of every Christian.

What is prayer? There exists many definitions and descriptions of prayer. Saint Augustine describes prayer as nothing but love that arises from the heart. Saint John Vianney defines prayer as the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself. For Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, 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. Then, Prayer according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God. In a nutshell, prayer is our conversation with God in which we raise our minds and hearts to Him to adore Him, worship Him, praise Him, thank Him for all He does in our lives and ask Him for our needs.

So what are the components of Catholic prayer? Catholic prayer consists of five important components which are all contained in the "Our Father" prayer Jesus taught His disciples in today’s gospel reading. A well-rounded prayer includes adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, supplication and intercession. How are we supposed to pray? Firstly before we pray, we need to find a suitable place, quiet ourselves to avoid distractions, then

  • Make a prayer of adoration to God in the Blessed Trinity;
  • Offer a prayer of contrition for our sins;
  • Thank God for all His blessings, graces and mercies upon us by saying a prayer of thanksgiving,
  • Ask God for our needs in supplication.
  • Then pray for others and their needs.

What are the characteristics of prayer?

  1. Sincerity — when we pray, we need to communicate with God with sincerity of heart as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God and not just a use of words.
  2. Simplicity — which entails praying with humility and with simple words, not just empty and meaningless repetition of words or phrases. Remember, Prayer does not depend on how many words or phrases we use but on how we raise our minds and hearts to God in adoration.
  3. Persistence — which means praying with firm or obstinate continuance and perseverance even though it is difficult or opposed by distractions. Remember the story of persistence we heard in today’s gospel reading of the man who goes at midnight to ask his friend for bread to welcome his visitor and the words of Jesus to us "And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

So my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us follow the example shown us by Jesus today as He taught His disciples to pray by adoring God, by worshiping Him, by praising Him, by thanking Him for all He does in our lives and by asking Him for our needs with sincerity of heart, with simplicity of words, and with persistent perseverance.