| By Pete Burak

Catechism Part IV

Christian Prayer

Have you ever picked up the phone to call your spouse or friend, and as you go to dial their number, you’ve somehow just answered a call from them? At first, it’s disorienting and a little strange, but then, a quiet feeling of satisfaction settles on you as you realize they were thinking of you at the exact same moment you were thinking of them.

Part 4 of the catechism explores, in much more beautiful and profound language, Christian Prayer as a spiritual version of this scenario. “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 … God's initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response.” (CCC 2567)

Too often we view prayer as something we have to initiate, but mysteriously, prayer is our participation in and recognition of something God is already doing. Prayer is less of jumping into a lake and more of realizing you’re already floating down the river.

“It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.” (2560)

God desires union with us more than we do! Think about the ramifications of this reality. Our petitions are never annoying. Our praise is never ignored. Our time with him is never “too much,” “needy,” or as the kids say these days, “extra.” He delights in every glance his way, every mention of his name, every acknowledgment of his presence. However, his magnificent and intensely loving desire for us illustrates why our rejection of his efforts and our willingness to ignore his presence is so serious. Too often we choose our own desires, comfort and companionship over the infinite God of the Universe. This is transcendently unjust and foolish.

However, don’t allow this realization to push you toward despair, because God’s response to our rejection is an even more passionate pursuit, and at the slightest hint of us turning back toward him, his grace provides everything we need to be reunited with him. There is no reason, excuse or circumstance that justifies ignoring God. Remember, St. Paul tells us, “For I am sure that neither death, nor life … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39)

Don’t overcomplicate prayer. Begin again to look at Jesus, speak his name and listen for his voice. Ultimately, prayer is picking up the phone since God is always on the line.

Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.