What is really occurring when we pray?

Good Day.

I posted this question last week but it som how got deleted before it was answered. So I am posting it again.

I have a question regarding prayer and what it really is. Obviously the first response is to check the CCC paragraphs 2559 through 2565. However, this did not clarify the meaning of prayer enough for me.

My question is: Since God is perfect; He does not need or depend on anything external for either His happiness or fulfillment. If that is the case and I believe it to be so. What is the reason we pray? Please do not get me wrong, I know we need to pray. But what are we doing when we pray? Is it simply an internalization and / or acknowledgment of our dependence on God?

I am thinking that pray is used by God to better our souls. By praying Prayers of Adoration we are confirming in ourselves the existence of God. By praying Prayer of petition we are confirming our dependence on God etc. Am I all wrong or am I missing something?

If it is not too much trouble, I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Matt Kosciuk/ Pappa Matt

Dear Matt,

I saw your thread and thought someone else was answering or I would have. The Catechism speaks of prayer from our vantage point, but you are interested in prayer from God’s vantage point. I think you’re on the right track in suggesting that it is primarily for our benefit. Prayer is matter of the truth of reality. To acknowledge God to be God is to simply acknowledge the truth. Such acknowledgement is what we call worship–which He deserves. St. Thomas Aquinas puts the worship of God under the virtue of justice.

God is love, unlimited love. St. Thomas says that love is expansive. It is diffusive of itself. So God created beings who could love and therefore possibly be holy (and therefore, happy). More love means more goodness.

Love always depends on the truth. The ultimate truth is that God is God. So the first requirement of creatures who were created to love—is to love the Creator by acknowledging His existence and goodness. The prayers of contrition, thanksgiving and petition are, in their own way, also all expressions of this love for the Creator. Prayer is all about God as is all of His creation—including you and me.

Thanks for trying a second time. It was a good question.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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