Spiritual Life

God calls everyone to prayer

Continuing our series on prayer in the Catechism, we come now to the chapter called “The Revelation of Prayer.” It begins with two paragraphs on “The Universal Call to Prayer” (nos. 2566-2567). God calls every human being to be a person of prayer. This truth is reflected in the various revelations of God throughout history.

God created humans to share in his life and joy. In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in God’s presence in the Garden of Eden. The Catechism says, “In the act of creation, God calls every being from nothingness into existence. ‘Crowned with glory and honor,’ man is, after the angels, capable of acknowledging ‘how majestic is the name of the Lord in all the earth’” (no. 2566). Our ability to know and to love, which sets us above the rest of the material creation, was given to us so that we might know and love God.

Since this is the purpose of our existence, every human being longs for God in his heart, even if he is unaware of what he is truly longing for. Our minds and hearts were damaged by sin, but not completely deformed. “Even after losing through his sin his likeness to God, man remains an image of his Creator, and retains the desire for the one who calls him into existence” (ibid.). Every human searches for ultimate meaning and happiness. Nearly all cultures in history have been religious, as people of different times and places have sought God.

But God does not leave us to discover the truth on our own. “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” (no. 2567). Even though we think that we are the ones reaching out to God, he is reaching out to us first. Here the Catechism echoes the teaching of John the Evangelist: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he (first) loved us …” (1 Jn 4:10).

The same order is maintained regarding prayer. “The living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response” (no. 2567).

We can see why, then, that the church places a special emphasis on meditating on Scripture (CCC, nos. 2705–2708). God speaks to us through the Scriptures. He reveals himself to us and invites us to return to living in his presence as our first parents did. “As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation” (ibid.).

Meditating on the Scriptures does more than impart knowledge of God. It allows the love of God to beckon us to a relationship with him through our pondering of the way God has revealed himself throughout history.

The central “drama” of history involves God’s invitation to us to know and love him. It is in prayer that we hear the invitation and respond. If we seek happiness and peace, if we desire to live in God’s presence, we must make prayer a priority.

Connie Rossini is a member of St. Peter Parish in Omaha. She is the author of “The Q&A Guide to Mental Prayer,” now available at amazon.com, and five other books on Catholic spirituality.