The subject of our 1st and 3rd scriptures today is prayer. When I was younger, a lot younger, I understood the definition of prayer to be per the Baltimore Catechism, "Lifting my mind and heart to God". As is true for virtually all the truths in the Catechism, that's a good but incomplete answer.

In today's gospel reading Jesus instructed his disciples how to do one essential part of praying, which agrees with the Baltimore Catechism's definition, that is beginning our conversation with God. He delineates the fact that the ideal prayer includes the praise and worship of God in addition to defining our needs past, present and future. Just like the Catechism that's a good but incomplete answer.

In today's reading from Genesis we read a description of Abraham having a conversation with God and that is an example of a more complete definition of prayer. Like any conversation to be of value it can't be a monologue. There is need to have input from each party involved. God is always open to listening to us but we need to be open to God's response. Just like in any conversation, the listening part is toughest. Abraham had it easy as described in our 1st reading where God answered plainly to each of Abraham's questions. Wouldn't it be great if that was how God responds to our initiation of the conversation. That's not how it words. God's response is like that a person sitting in the front seat of a car receives from the person in the back seat. Some time you hear it but other times you don't. No matter what, it is most likely difficult to understand unless you pay close attention in silence.

What does it usually take to hear God's response? Silence. If you think about it that is a need in all conversations between people. In order to hear a response you need to stop talking. In order to hear God's response a person needs to be really quiet in that God talks even softer than a little child with a high voice.

St. John Vianney's response to a couple who asked him how to pray just like Jesus' apostles asked. His response was more complete than Jesus'. He said every day:

Spend 3 minutes praising and thanking God for all you have.

Spend 3 minutes asking God's pardon for your sins and presenting your needs Spend 3 minutes reading the Bible and listening to God in silence.

I would say that puts the finishing touch on Jesus' instruction, don't you?

Being an engineer I always like things to the point, short and sweet and after hearing the Catechism's, Jesus instruction and St. John recommendation my definition of prayer is:

Talk to God and listen in silence.

Talk to God and listen in silence.

Talk to God and listen in silence.

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