Prayer in General
1 Q. What does this Part of Christian Doctrine treat of?
A. This Part of Christian Doctrine treats of Prayer in general, and of the Our Father in particular.
2 Q. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an elevation of the mind to God to adore Him, to thank Him, and to ask Him for what we need.
3 Q. How is prayer divided?
A. Prayer is divided into mental and vocal prayer. Mental prayer is that made with the mind alone; and vocal prayer is that expressed in words accompanied by attention of mind and devotion of heart.
4 Q. Can prayer be divided in any other way?
A. Prayer may also be divided into private and public prayer.
5 Q. What is private prayer?
A. Private prayer is that which each one says individually for himself or for others.
6 Q. What is public prayer?
A. Public prayer is that said by the Sacred Ministers in the name of the Church and for the salvation of the faithful. That prayer also which is said in common and publicly by the faithful, in processions, pilgrimages and in God's house, may also be called public prayer.
7 Q. Have we a well-founded hope of obtaining by means of prayer the helps and graces of which we stand in need?
A. The hope of obtaining from God the graces of which we stand in need is founded on the promises of the omnipotent, merciful and all-faithful God, and on the merits of Jesus Christ.
8 Q. In whose name should we ask of God the graces we stand in need of?
A. We should ask of God the graces we stand in need of in the Name of Jesus Christ, as He Himself has taught us and as is done by the Church, which always ends her prayers with these words: Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 Q. Why should we beg graces of God in the Name of Jesus Christ?
A. We should beg graces of God in the Name of Jesus Christ because He is our Mediator, and it is through Him alone that we can approach the throne of God.
10 Q. If prayer is so powerful how is it that many times our prayers are not heard?
A. Many times our prayers are not heard, either because we ask things not conducive to our eternal salvation, or because we do not ask properly.
11 Q. Which are the chief things we should ask of God?
A. The chief things we should ask of God are His own glory, our eternal salvation and the means of obtaining it.
12 Q. Is it not also lawful to ask for temporal goods?
A. Yes, it is lawful to ask God for temporal goods, but always with the condition that these be in conformity with His Holy will and not a hindrance to our salvation.
13 Q. If God knows all that is necessary for us, why should we pray?
A. Although God knows all that is necessary for us, He nevertheless wills that we should pray to Him so as to acknowledge Him as the Giver of every good gift, to attest our humble submission to Him, and to merit His favours for ourselves.
14 Q. What is the first and best disposition to render our prayers efficacious?
A. The first and best disposition to render our prayers efficacious is to be in the state of grace; or if we are not in that state, to desire to put ourselves in it.
15 Q. What other dispositions are required in order to pray well?
A. To pray well we specially require recollection, humility, confidence, perseverance and resignation.
16 Q. What is meant by praying with recollection?
A. It means remembering that we are speaking to God; and hence we should pray with all respect and devotion, as far as possible avoiding distractions, that is, every thought foreign to our prayers.
17 Q. Do distractions lessen the merit of prayer?
A. Yes, when we ourselves bring them about, or when we do not promptly drive them away; but if we do all we can to be recollected in God, then our distractions do not lessen the merit of our prayer, and may even increase it
18 Q. What is required to pray with recollection?
A. Before prayer we should banish all occasions of distraction, and during prayer we should reflect that we are in the presence of God who sees and hears us.
19 Q. What is meant by praying with humility?
A. It means sincerely acknowledging our own unworthiness, powerlessness and misery, and as well as this observing a respectful posture.
20 Q. What is meant by praying with confidence?
A. It means that we should have a firm hope of being heard, if it is to God's glory and our own true welfare.
21 Q. What is meant by praying praying with perseverance?
A. It means that we should not grow tired of praying, if God does not at once hear us, but that we should ever continue to pray with increased fervour.
22 Q. What is meant by praying with resignation?
A. It means that we should conform our will to the will of God, even when our prayers are not heard, because He knows better than we do what is necessary for our eternal salvation.
23 Q. Does God always hear prayers when well said?
A. Yes, God always hears prayers when well said; but in the way He knows to be most conducive to our eternal salvation, and not always in the way we wish.
24 Q. What effects does prayer produce in us?
A. Prayer makes us recognise our dependence on God, the Supreme Lord, in all things; it makes us think on heavenly things; it makes us advance in virtue; it obtains for us God's mercy; it strengthens us against temptation; it comforts us in tribulation; it aids us in our needs; and it obtains for us the grace of final perseverance.
25 Q. When should we especially pray?
A. We should especially pray when in danger, in temptation, and at the hour of death; moreover, we should pray often, and it is advisable we should do so morning and night, and when beginning the more important actions of the day.
26 Q. For whom should we pray?
A. We should pray for all; first, for ourselves, then for our relatives, superiors, benefactors, friends and enemies; for the conversion of poor sinners, and of those outside the true Church, and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
(Tomorrow, The Lord's Prayer)
Pius X, Pope St.. Catholic Catechism of Saint Pius X (1908) (pp. 42-44). Kindle Edition.