In our lives as Christians, as we seek to live a life of prayer, we are encouraged and aided by the example and witness of the Lord Jesus himself. He shows us how to live as the children of God. He shows is the path of prayer.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “When Jesus prays he is already teaching us how to pray.”

As we follow his way of prayer, we are taught how to believe in God, trust him, and love him above all else. Prayer gives us the grace we need to live the life shown to us by the Lord Jesus. Without the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, we cannot live faithfully as the children of God. The Catechism notes: “[Jesus’] prayer to his Father is the theological path (the path of faith, hope, and charity) of our prayer to God.”

Faith, hope, and love are theological virtues because they are the means of our relationship with God. Theos is Greek for God. It is from this word that we get the term “theological.” And so, in this context, we are not speaking about the sacred science of theology. In this usage, “theological” is not a reference to the academic field that studies the truth of God.

In the usage of the term in the context about prayer, “theological” simply means pertaining to God. Faith, hope, and love are theological since we need them to know, trust, and love God. The prayer of the Lord Jesus is the theological way by which our prayer can be born, nourished, and have credence before God.

While the Lord Jesus models the life of prayer for us and his prayer has power in itself, he nevertheless goes even further and gives us direct teachings on prayer. The Catechism says: “But the Gospel also gives us Jesus’ explicit teaching on prayer. Like a wise teacher he takes hold of us where we are and leads us progressively toward the Father.”

And so, the Lord’s direct teachings on prayer are not abstract or removed from the awareness and understandings of his initial listeners. He meets people where they are and leads them to where they need to be, namely, in the bosom of the Father.

The Catechism continues: “Addressing the crowds following him, Jesus builds on what they already know of prayer from the Old Covenant and opens to them the newness of the coming Kingdom.”

The Lord Jesus has profound and deep teachings on prayer that he wants to reveal to the world and especially to his disciples. There is much the Lord wants to say about prayer, since it is a vital and personal relationship with God. It is precisely this relationship that the Lord Jesus will restore and open up again for all humanity.

After the Lord speaks of prayer as his initial listeners understand it, he then moves them to higher and more intimate understands of prayer. He takes them from the status of slaves and beggars and raises them to the dignity of children and members of the family of God. Among the many tools he uses in his teachings, the parables stand in prominence. The Lord enjoyed using parables. They could be immediately understood and yet still contain a depth that required further reflection and discovery. The parables cannot be controlled not exhausted in their meaning and lessons.

The Catechism teaches: “Then [Jesus] reveals this newness [of prayer] to them in parables.”

While the parables serve an instrumental and theological purpose, they also must be superseded. The parables are needed, but after teaching for some time and leaving the parables with us for the duration of time, the Lord gave clear and succinct teachings about the Father and Holy Spirit. The Catechism asserts: “Finally, [Jesus] will speak openly of the Father and the Holy Spirit to his disciples who will be the teachers of prayer in his Church.”

We will need the knowledge of the Father’s love and the powerful assistance of the Holy Spirit to respond to the call of prayer and to persevere in its way. The Lord spoke openly and plainly about the Father and the Spirit, so that there would be no confusion or ambiguity when it comes to prayer and its essential place in our relationship with the living God.