How Do I Pray?
Various forms of prayer are presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2623-2649). These various forms include prayer of blessing or adoration, prayer of petition, prayer of intercession, prayer of thanksgiving, and prayer of praise.
Tips for Praying:
- Find a comfortable, quiet space
- Spend time quieting yourself, removing distractions
- Pray for a grace that you desire
- Read a scripture passage slowly – read it again – reflect and let the passage seep in
- Be quiet and let God speak to you
- Do not over analyze, just listen
- Journal your insights
- End with a familiar prayer
- Be open throughout the day to hear God’s voice
A Guide to Other Prayer Forms
After finding a comfortable position, choose just one word to pray. For example, choose one of the fruits of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Just keep repeating your one word….no explanations, just slowly ponder and allow time to elapse. If you begin to think about other things, gently return to your word. You can use centering prayer for a couple minutes throughout the day or for an extended time in the chapel. Just one word. This is a very peaceful prayer practice.
Meditation is a Christian practice of prayer dating back to the early Church. As the Catechism states: “Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.”
By meditating on the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts, spiritual writings, or “the great book of creation,” we come to make our own that which is God’s. “To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (CCC 2705-2706).
Meditation is an essential form of Christian prayer, especially for those who are seeking to answer the vocational question, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
The Examen, or examination of conscience, is a method of reviewing your day in prayer. St. Ignatius of Loyola used this prayer in his classic text, The Spiritual Exercises. Many Catholics pray the Examen at noon or at the end of the day.
There are five common movements in the Examen:
- Presence: Ask God to view the day through God’s eyes
- Gratitude: Review the day with a thankful heart, grateful for all as gift from God
- Review: Guided by the Holy Spirit, review the day, calling to prayer all your actions and omissions. When where you loved? When were you love?
- Sorrow: Ask forgiveness for the times you lacked holiness in word and deed
- Grace: End with a resolution to face the next day with a compassionate heart
Liturgy of the Hours
The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office, is the daily prayer of the Church. The Hours are a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ, using scripture and prayer. The most common way to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in common, meaning in community with others. The two most important or “hinge” Hours are Morning and Evening Prayer. Morning and Evening Prayer include psalms, canticles, prayers, scripture readings, and intercessions that are chosen for each day in a four-week cycle throughout the liturgical year
“The hymns and litanies of the Liturgy of the Hours integrate the prayer of the psalms into the age of the Church, expressing the symbolism of the time of day, the liturgical season, or the feast being celebrated. Moreover, the reading from the Word of God at each Hour (with the subsequent responses or troparia) and readings from the Fathers and spiritual masters at certain Hours, reveal more deeply the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, assist in understanding the psalms, and prepare for silent prayer.” (CCC 1177)
There are apps to pray the Liturgy of the Hours that help to make praying this prayer easier. Ask any Catholic sisters, brothers, or priests about their experience of praying the Liturgy of the Hours daily.
Journaling is more than writing in a diary. It is the spiritual act of placing your ponderings into words to reflect on God’s presence in our lives. No worries about grammar or spelling. Just write down your thoughts, questions, hopes, concerns, dreams, burdens, and insights into our encounters with God. Sometimes we can become so busy doing tasks that we easily forget about relationships with others and God. Journaling can help to seek balance in our lives by writing down prayer requests and answers, unexpected promptings of the Spirit in our lives. For those who are discerning their vocation, journaling is an excellent way to review a pattern of phrases and words to look deeper into charisms that are attractive to follow and integrated into our lives.
This is a favorite way to pray among Catholic sisters, brothers, and priests. Find a great book on spirituality, the saints, holy women and men, the Trinity, Holy Family, etc. and read an entire Chapter. Pause frequently to ponder the author’s words and its meaning in your life today. Consider journaling your favorite quotes and insights or try to memorize one line to repeat throughout the day.
Consider asking your youth minister or any sister, brother or priest about their favorite author/book. They may have some excellent suggestions and share their insights about the daily practice of spiritual reading.
Sharing our faith is sacred conversation with others who engage in dialogue by sharing personal insights and lived experiences. The disciples on their way to Emmaus “were conversing about all the things that had occurred” in Jerusalem. Faith sharing is more about listening to another’s encounter with God than proselytizing. Faith sharing is not catechesis either. It is about the willingness to share your own story of faith, your understanding of how God is present in your life. If you are having difficulties in recognizing God’s presence (that’s normal), faith sharing can be a time to share your honest struggles of avoiding God, growing apathetic, and compassion fatigue. Just keep the focus of the conversation on your experience of living your faith and listening in others’ experiences with an open heart.
Because faith sharing is a verbal conversation, it is not ideal in a chapel. However, it is ideal in small groups in spaces conducive to conversation. Some of the best times for faith sharing is on retreats or in car rides home from Sunday Mass! Consider asking a few friends to set aside time each week for intentional faith sharing.