Catechesis on prayer – 24. Prayer in daily life
In this catechesis on prayer, Pope Francis emphasizes the connection between Christian prayer and daily life. Prayer isn’t confined to formal religious settings, for our liturgical prayer extends and overflows into everyday situations, in our homes, daily duties, and work. Prayer, in this context, is described as an ongoing dialogue with God, akin to carrying a beloved person in one’s heart wherever they go.
Everything in life can be part of this dialogue with God. Joy becomes a reason for praise, and trials become opportunities to seek help through prayer. Prayer remains alive in our lives, even when our mouths are not speaking; our hearts continue the conversation with God. How can we learn to pray, even when going about secular activities? How can we infuse them with prayer? The Catechism answers that our times in prayer with Scripture and the Eucharist will aid us in praying amidst our daily activity:
We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal Mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us… time is in the Father’s hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today. (CCC 2659)
Note the importance of encountering God in the present moment, as Pope Francis emphasizes, “Today I meet God, today is always the day of the encounter.” By cherishing each day as a wonderful gift, we avoid constantly thinking about the future without appreciating the present, which can lead to a disconnect from reality.
My time in daily prayer instills confidence that God’s love can transform any experience into something good. Moreover, prayer not only fills my day with grace, it transforms us, “it quells anger, sustains love, multiplies joy, instils the strength to forgive.” Through prayer, we experience grace living and working within us, guiding us so that even obstacles become opportunities for an encounter with him.
Pope Francis encourages prayer in every aspect of life, including praying for enemies and those we may not know. Prayer fosters a superabundant love and can offer hope to the unhappy and isolated. Jesus showed great compassion to those in need, and we should emulate this compassion in our prayers and actions. Thus, prayer helps us love others despite their mistakes and sins, to be compassionate and forgiving, as Jesus did. Ultimately, by loving the world with tenderness, we can discover “a fragment of God’s mystery” in each day. As the Catechism reads:
Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the Kingdom revealed to ‘little children,’ to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom. (CCC 2660)
You are invited to meditate on 1 Thessalonians 5, where St. Paul first invites us to be watchful and vigilant in the present rather than worry about the future. And then Paul even commands us to “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks” (1 Thess 5:16-18).
All our thoughts and activities should be a part of our daily conversation with the Lord. There is no aspect of our everyday lives, however mundane, that cannot be offered in prayer to God and become an occasion of deeper union with him. Prayer can work miracles in our world, transform lives and history, and serve the coming of God’s kingdom of justice and peace.