Prayer As Conversation

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When talking about prayer, the Catechism refers to something that was said in the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.

The Church “forcefully and specially exhorts all the Christian faithful . . . to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ’ (Phil 3:8) by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. . . . Let them remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For ‘we speak to him when we pray; we listen to him when we read the divine oracles.”’

Catechism of The Catholic Church §2653

The dialogue between us and God, according to Dei Verbum, happens when we speak in prayer and then listen when we read the Scriptures. In other words, this states something obvious, that dialogues are not one-sided; otherwise, we would just call it a monologue. The theologian Garrigou-Lagrange offers us a way of understanding this dialogue, this conversation, with God. 

Every man, whether good or evil, holds a more or less serious conversation with himself at certain hours of the day whenever he is alone and often enough even amid the throngs of a bustling city.

The interior life is an elevated form of the interior conversation of every man, when this conversation becomes or tends to become a conversation with God.

Garrigou-Lagrange O.P., Reverend Reginald. Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. Collection [16 Books] . Location 46769 of 123708, Aeterna Press. Kindle Edition. 

This is typically what we would call ‘talking to yourself’ when having this interior conversation. All of us should be familiar with our capacity to do this and work things out via internal conversation with ourselves. What Garrigou-Lagrange is saying is that when we take this capacity to have an interior conversation and use it to talk to God, we are praying. Put that together with what Dei Verbum says about reading Scripture. In our conversation with God, we typically do not get an audible response back. By turning to the Word that we do have, the Scriptures, we can listen to what He is saying to us.

The importance of Scripture proves true in the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. In the Rosary we are invited to meditate on certain mysteries for each decade, events that we find in Scripture. The Chaplet focuses on the Passion of Christ which again we find in Scripture. Imagine what either of those devotions would be like without the Scriptural accompaniment to aid our meditation.

As we continue to pray through Lent and the current epidemic, let us remember both sides of a conversation with God, taking time to speak and time to listen. If having access to the Scriptures (especially the Gospel accounts) is something that hasn’t existed previously in your prayer time I would invite you to consider adding it.

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