475. What is prayer?
Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God.
476. Why do we pray?
first, to adore God, expressing to Him our love and loyalty;
second, to thank Him for His favors;
third, to obtain from Him the pardon of our sins and the remission of their punishment;
fourth, to ask for graces and blessings for ourselves and others.
477. How should we pray?
We should pray:
first, with attention;
second, with a conviction of our own helplessness and our dependence upon God;
third, with a great desire for the graces we beg of Him;
fourth, with loving trust in His goodness;
fifth, with perseverance.
478. For whom should we pray?
We should pray especially for ourselves, for our parents, relatives, friends, and enemies, for sinners, for the souls in purgatory, for the Pope, bishops, and priests of the Church, and for the officials of our country.
479. How do we know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly?
We know that God always hears our prayers if we pray properly because Our Lord has promised: "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you."
480. Why do we not always obtain what we pray for?
We do not always obtain what we pray for, either because we have not prayed properly or because God sees that what we are asking would not be for our good.
481. Are distractions in our prayers always displeasing to God?
Distractions in our prayers are not displeasing to God, unless they are willful.
482. How many kinds of prayer are there?
There are two kinds of prayer: mental prayer and vocal prayer.
483. What is mental prayer?
Mental prayer is that prayer by which we unite our hearts with God while thinking of His holy truths.
484. What is vocal prayer?
Vocal prayer is that prayer which comes from the mind and heart and is spoken by the lips.
485. May we use our own words in praying to God?
We may use our own words in praying to God, and it is well to do so often.
486. What are the prayers that every Catholic should know by heart?
The prayers that every Catholic should know by heart are: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostles' Creed, the Confiteor, the Glory be to the Father, and the acts of faith, hope, charity, and contrition.
487. How do we usually begin and end our prayers?
We usually begin and end our prayers with the sign of the cross.
488. Why do we make the sign of the cross?
We make the sign of the cross to express two important mysteries of the Christian religion, the Blessed Trinity and the Redemption.
489. How are these mysteries expressed by the sign of the cross?
When we say "In the name," we express the truth that there is only one God; when we say "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," we express the truth that there are three distinct Persons in God; and when we make the form of the cross on ourselves, we express the truth that the Son of God, made man, redeemed us by His death on the cross.