Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Catholic Company Book Review: Prayer

Pope Benedict XVI

I have been wondering a lot about prayer recently: why I pray, what I expect when I pray, what I should pray. When I saw this book in the list of review books for The Catholic Company, I knew I should request it. I was a little worried that Pope Benedict would be too academic, but was instead surprised at how applicable the book was.

Pope Benedict presented forty-five catecheses on prayer during his general audiences from May 4, 2011 to October 3, 2012 that were edited slightly to be published as a single book. Over the course of the book, he draws extensively from Scripture as well as the writings and experiences of a few saints.

I could have quoted from every chapter. There is so much richness in each one.
The Giver is more precious than the gift. For us too, therefore, over and above what God bestows on us when we call on him, the greatest gift that he can give us is his friendship, his presence and his love. He is the precious treasure to ask for and to preserve forever.
The most important result of my time in prayer is the development of my relationship with God. It is not about asking for something and receiving it (or feeling like I don't). It's simply about spending time with him so that he can change me and change how I act in the world.

My favorite chapter was the one on St. Paul. Pope Benedict explained three results of the work of the Spirit. The second of these (you'll have to read the book to learn the other two) is a complete trusting of the Lord despite any trials and suffering.
We understand that with prayer we are not liberated from trials and suffering, but that we can live through them in union with Christ, with his suffering, in the hope of also participating in his glory.
In the chapter on St. Alphonsus Mary Liguori:
More than anything else we need his liberating presence which makes us truly fully human and hence fills our existence with joy. And it is only through prayer that we can receive him and his grace, which, by enlightening us in every situation, helps us to discern true good and by strengthening us also makes our will effective; that is, renders it capable of doing what we know is good.
A final quote:
The more and the better we pray, with constancy, with intensity, the more like him we shall be, and he will truly enter into our life and guide it, bestowing up on us joy and peace.
I am still working through the purpose and results of prayer myself, but this book was a wonderful source of thought and contemplation for me. Though I did not stop while reading it to look up the Scripture references, I have noticed the themes standing out more clearly to me in my Scripture readings. I highly recommend this book; it's definitely one of my favorites of all The Catholic Company book reviews I've done over the years.

I received a review copy of this book.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Prayer - by Pope Benedict XVI. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith

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