CIC 741 “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”1 The Holy Spirit, the artisan of God’s works, is the master of prayer. (This will be the topic of Part Four.)

CIC 2559 “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”2 But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted;4 humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,”5 are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6

CIC 2630 The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church’s petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day. Christian petition, what St. Paul calls {“groaning,” arises from another depth, that of creation “in labor pains” and that of ourselves “as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”7 In the end, however, “with sighs too deep for words” the Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”8

CIC 2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.9 He is “able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”10 The Holy Spirit “himself intercedes for us. .. and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”11

CIC 2736 Are we convinced that “we do not know how to pray as we ought”?12 Are we asking God for “what is good for us”? Our Father knows what we need before we ask him,13 but he awaits our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their freedom. We must pray, then, with his Spirit of freedom, to be able truly to know what he wants.14

CIC 2739 For St. Paul, this trust is bold, founded on the prayer of the Spirit in us and on the faithful love of the Father who has given us his only Son.15 Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to our petition.

CIC 2766 But Jesus does not give us a formula to repeat mechanically.16 As in every vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father. Jesus not only gives us the words of our filial prayer; at the same time he gives us the Spirit by whom these words become in us “spirit and life.”17 Even more, the proof and possibility of our filial prayer is that the Father “sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”18 Since our prayer sets forth our desires before God, it is again the Father, “he who searches the hearts of men,” who “knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”19 The prayer to Our Father is inserted into the mysterious mission of the Son and of the Spirit.

1 Rom 8:26.
2 St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 3, 24: PG 94,1089C.
3 Ps 130:1.
4 Cf. Lk 18:9-14.
5 Rom 8:26.
6 St. Augustine, Sermo 56, 6, 9: PL 38, 381.
7 Rom 8:22-24.
8 Rom 8:26.
9 Cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; 1 Tim 2:5-8.
10 Heb 7:25.
11 Rom 8:26-27.
12 Rom 8:26.
13 Cf. Mt 6:8.
14 Cf. Rom 8:27.
15 Cf. Rom 10:12-13; 8:26-39.
16 Cf. Mt 6:7; 1 Kings 18:26-29.
17 Jn 6:63.
18 Gal 4:6.
19 Rom 8:27.