YOUTCAT contents for At-Home Lesson#1

YOUCAT# 469, 470, 474, 475, 476, 477, and 478 [1]


YOUCAT#469 What is prayer?

Prayer is turning the heart toward God. When a person prays, he enters into a living relationship with God. [2558-2565]

Prayer is the great gate leading into faith. Someone who prays no longer lives on his own, for himself, and by his own strength. He knows there is a God to whom he can talk. People who pray entrust themselves more and more to God. Even now they seek union with the one whom they will encounter one day face to face. Therefore, the effort to pray daily is part of Christian life. Of course, one cannot learn to pray in the same way one learns a technique. As strange as it sounds, prayer is a gift one obtains through prayer.

YOUCAT#470 What prompts a person to pray?

We pray because we are full of an infinite longing and God has created us men for himself: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (St. Augustine). But we pray also because we need to; Mother Teresa says, “Because I cannot rely on myself, I rely on him, twenty-four hours a day.” [2566-2567, 2591]

Often we forget God, run away from him and hide. Whether we avoid thinking about God or deny him — he is always there for us. He seeks us before we seek him; he yearns for us, he calls us. You speak with your conscience and suddenly notice that you are speaking with God. You feel lonely, have no one to talk with, and then sense that God is always available to talk. You are in danger and experience that a cry for help is answered by God. Praying is as human as breathing, eating, and loving. Praying purifies. Praying makes it possible to resist temptations. Praying strengthens us in our weakness. Praying removes fear, increases energy, and gives a second wind. Praying makes one happy.

YOUCAT#474 How did Jesus learn to pray?

Jesus learned to pray in his family and in the synagogue. Yet Jesus broke through the boundaries of traditional prayer. His prayer demonstrates a union with his Father in heaven that is possible only to someone who is the Son of God. [2598-2599]

Jesus, who was God and man at the same time, grew up like other Jewish children of his time amid the rituals and prayer formulas of his people, Israel. Nevertheless, as the story of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple demonstrated (Lk 2:41ff.), there was something in him that could not be learned: an original, profound, and unique union with God, his Father in heaven. Like all other men, Jesus hoped for another world, a hereafter, and prayed to God. At the same time, though, he was also part of that hereafter. This occasion already showed that one day people would pray to Jesus, acknowledge him as God, and ask for his grace.

YOUCAT#475 How did Jesus pray?

Jesus’ life was one single prayer. At decisive moments (his temptation in the desert, his selection of the apostles, his death on the Cross) his prayer was especially intense. Often he withdrew into solitude to pray, especially at night. Being one with the Father in the Holy Spirit —that was the guiding principle of his earthly life. [2600-2605]

YOUCAT#476 How did Jesus pray as he was facing his death?

When face to face with death, Jesus experienced the utmost depths of human fear. Yet he found the strength even in that hour to trust his heavenly Father: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this chalice from me; yet not what I will, but what you will [be done]” (Mk 14:36). [2605-2606, 2620]

“Times of need teach us to pray.” Almost everyone experiences that in his life. How did Jesus pray when he was threatened by death? What guided him in those hours was his absolute willingness to entrust himself to the love and care of his Father. Yet Jesus recited the most unfathomable prayer of all, which he took from the Jewish prayers for the dying: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34, citing Ps 22:1). All the despair, all the laments, all the cries of mankind in all times, and yearning for God’s helping hand are contained in this word of the Crucified. With the words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46), he breathed forth his spirit. In them we hear his boundless trust in his Father, whose power knows the way to conquer death. Thus Jesus’ prayer in the midst of dying already anticipates the Easter victory of his Resurrection.

YOUCAT#477 What does it mean to learn from Jesus how to pray?

Learning from Jesus how to pray means entering into his boundless trust, joining in his prayer, and being led by him, step by step, to the Father. [2607-2614, 2621]

The disciples, who lived in community with Jesus, learned to pray by listening to and imitating Jesus, whose whole life was prayer. Like him, they had to be watchful and strive for purity of heart, to give up everything for the coming of God’s kingdom, to forgive their enemies, to trust boldly in God, and to love him above all things. By this example of devotion, Jesus invited his disciples to say to God Almighty, “Abba, dear Father”. If we pray in the Spirit of Jesus, especially the Lord’s Prayer, we walk in Jesus’ shoes and can be sure that we will arrive unfailingly in the heart of the Father.

YOUCAT#478 Why can we be confident that our prayer is heard by God?

Many people called on Jesus during his earthly life for healing, and their prayers were answered. Jesus, who rose from the dead, listens to our petitions and brings them to the Father. [2615-2616, 2621]

Even today we know the name of the synagogue official: Jairus was the name of the man who begged Jesus for help, and his prayer was answered. His little daughter was deathly ill. No one could help her. Jesus not only healed his little girl, he even raised her from the dead (Mk 5:21-43). Jesus worked a whole series of well-attested cures. He performed signs and miracles. The lame, the lepers, and the blind did not ask Jesus in vain. There are testimonies also of prayers answered by all the saints of the
Church. Many Christians can tell stories of how they called to God and God heard their prayer. God, however, is not an automat. We must leave it up to him how he will answer our petitions.