Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. Please visit The Baltimore Catechism to view all the lists SPL has published from this great text.
LESSON TWENTY-EIGHTH On Prayer 1098-1124
Q. 1098. Is there any other means of obtaining God’s grace than the Sacraments?
A. There is another means of obtaining God’s grace, and it is prayer.
Q. 1099. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God, to adore Him, to thank Him for His benefits, to ask His forgiveness, and to beg of Him all the graces we need whether for soul or body.
Q. 1100. How many kinds of prayer are there?
A. There are two kinds of prayer:
Mental prayer, called meditation, in which we spend the time thinking of God or of one or more of the truths He has revealed, that by these thoughts we may be persuaded to lead holier lives; Vocal prayer, in which we express these pious thoughts in words.
Q. 1101. Why is mental prayer most useful to us?
A. Mental prayer is most useful to us because it compels us, while we are engaged in it, to keep our attention fixed on God and His holy laws and to keep our hearts and minds lifted up to Him.
Q. 1102. How can we make a meditation?
A. We can make a meditation:
By remembering that we are in the presence of God; By asking the Holy Ghost to give us grace to benefit by the meditation; By reflecting seriously on some sacred truth regarding our salvation; By drawing some good resolution from the thoughts we have had; and By thanking God for the knowledge and grace bestowed on us through the meditation.
Q. 1103. Where may we find subjects or points for meditation?
A. We may find the subjects or points for meditation in the words of the Our Father, Hail Mary or Apostles’ Creed; also in the questions and answers of our Catechism, in the Holy Bible, and in books of meditation.
Q. 1104. Is prayer necessary to salvation?
A. Prayer is necessary to salvation, and without it no one having the use of reason can be saved.
Q. 1105. At what particular times should we pray?
A. We should pray particularly on Sundays and holy days, every morning and night, in all dangers, temptations, and afflictions.
Q. 1106. How should we pray?
A. We should pray:
With attention; With a sense of our own helplessness and dependence upon God; With a great desire for the graces we beg of God; With trust in God’s goodness; With perseverance.
Q. 1107. What should our attention at prayer be?
A. Our attention at prayer should be threefold, namely, attention to the words, that we may say them correctly and distinctly; attention to their meaning, if we understand it, and attention to God, to whom the words are addressed.
Q. 1108. What should be the position of the body when we pray?
A. At prayer the most becoming position of the body is kneeling upright, but whether we pray kneeling, standing or sitting, the position of the body should always be one indicating reverence, respect and devotion. We may pray even lying down or walking, for Our Lord Himself says we should pray at all times.
Q. 1109. What should we do that we may pray well?
A. That we may pray well we should make a preparation before prayer:
By calling to mind the dignity of God, to whom we are about to speak, and our own unworthiness to appear in His presence; By fixing upon the precise grace or blessing for which we intend to ask; By remembering God’s power and willingness to give if we truly need and ,earnestly, humbly and confidently ask.
Q. 1110. Why does God not always grant our prayers?
A. God does not always grant our prayers for these and other reasons:
Because we may not pray in the proper manner; That we may learn our dependence on Him, prove our confidence in Him, and merit rewards by our patience and perseverance in prayer. Prudent persons do not grant every request; why, then, should God do so?
Q. 1111. What assurance have we that God always hears and rewards our prayers, though He may not grant what we ask?
A. We have the assurance of Our Lord Himself that God always hears and rewards our prayers, though He may not grant what we ask; for Christ said: “Ask and it shall be given you,” and “if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you.”
Q. 1112. Which are the prayers most recommended to us?
A. The prayers most recommended to us are the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Apostles’ Creed, the Confiteor, and the Acts of Faith, Hope, Love, and Contrition.
Q. 1113. Are prayers said with distractions of any avail?
A. Prayers said with willful distraction are of no avail.
Q. 1114. Why are prayers said with willful distraction of no avail?
A. Prayers said with willful distraction are of no avail because they are mere words, such as a machine might utter, and since there is no lifting up of the mind or heart with them they cannot be prayer.
Q. 1115. Do, then, the distractions which we often have at prayer deprive our prayers of all merit?
A. The distractions which we often have at prayer do not deprive our prayers of all merit, because they are not willful when we try to keep them away, for God rewards our good intentions and the efforts we make to pray well.
Q. 1116. What, then, is a distraction?
A. A distraction is any thought that, during prayer, enters our mind to turn our thoughts and hearts from God and from the sacred duty we are performing.
Q. 1117. What are the fruits of prayer?
A. The fruits of prayer are:
It strengthens our faith, nourishes our hope, increases our love for God, keeps us humble, merits grace and atones for sin.
Q. 1118. Why should we pray when God knows our needs?
A. We pray not to remind God or tell Him of what we need, but to acknowledge that He is the Supreme Giver, to adore and worship Him by showing our entire dependence upon Him for every gift to soul or body.
Q. 1119. What little prayers may we say even at work?
A. Even at work we may say little aspirations such as “My God, pardon my sins; Blessed be the Holy Name of Jesus; Holy Spirit, enlighten me; Holy Mary, pray for me,” etc.
Q. 1120. Did Our Lord Himself pray, and why?
A. Our Lord Himself very frequently prayed, often spending the whole night in prayer. He prayed before every important action, not that He needed to pray, but to set us an example of how and when we should pray.
Q. 1121. Why does the Church conclude most of its prayers with the words “through Jesus Christ Our Lord”?
A. The Church concludes most of its prayers with the words “through Jesus Christ Our Lord” because it is only through His merits that we can obtain grace, and because “there is no other name given to men whereby we must be saved.”
Q. 1122. Was any special promise made in favor of the united prayers of two or more persons?
A. A special promise was made in favor of the united prayers of two or more persons when Our Lord said: “Where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Therefore, the united prayers of a congregation, sodality or family, and, above all, the public prayers of the whole Church, have great influence with God. We should join in public prayers out of true devotion, and not from habit, or, worse, to display our piety.
Q. 1123. What is the most suitable place for prayer?
A. The most suitable place for prayer is in the Church — the house of prayer — made holy by special blessings and, above all, by the Real Presence of Jesus dwelling in the Tabernacle. Still, Our Lord exhorts us to pray also in secret, for His Father, who seeth in secret, will repay us.
Q. 1124. For what should we pray?
A. We should pray:
For ourselves, for the blessings of soul and body that we may be devoted servants of God; For the Church, for all spiritual and temporal wants, that the true faith may be everywhere known and professed; For our relatives, friends and benefactors, particularly for those we may in any way have injured; For all men, for the protection of the good and conversion of the wicked, that virtue may flourish and vice disappear; For our spiritual rulers, the Pope, our bishops, priests and religious communities, that they may faithfully perform their sacred duties; For our country and temporal rulers, that they may use their power for the good of their subjects and for the honor and glory of God.