VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2011 ( Christians might frequently seek "formulas" to pray better, but actually going deeper and standing before God is too rare, according to the Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, made this reflection on the most recent edition of Vatican Television's "Octava Dies." He was speaking about the cycle of catecheses that Benedict XVI just began for the Wednesday audiences on the subject of prayer.

The spokesman suggested the topic has drawn great interest because the "materialistic and secularized context in which we are living" and the "frenetic activism," tends to "isolate the dimension of reflection and contemplation of our lives and also that of prayer."

"Often in Christian environments we talk about prayers and prayer," he said, "we seek 'formulas' for it, but more rarely do we go deeper, where one stands before God and places in relation to him the heart of our persons, the heart of our lives."

Father Lombardi offered a context for the catecheses in two words: mystery and desire.

On the one hand, understanding that "God is Other and mysterious," but also recognizing a "thirst for the infinite, desire for love, need for light and truth" in the depths of the person, which pushes us toward the Absolute.

"Mystery and desire," he said. "This is the common ground of humanity that prays, on which the precious seed of Christian prayer can fall and become fruitful."