Back to Basics: How to Pray

(Happy St. Joseph’s Day!)

“How do I pray,” is a loaded question. Prayer means different things to different people, and God knows there are tons of books about prayer. Even Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray.

Back to Basics: How to pray

So, if you really want to learn how to pray, ask Jesus to give you the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray! He will teach us to pray, if we keep asking and by showing our readiness by actually taking the time to pray.

Here are three ideas on how to pray to get you started:

1. Liturgical Prayer

The Mass is foremost and central to our Catholic faith. It is so important Mother Church made going to church every Sunday (and special holy days) an obligation. This isn’t to make us feel like “we have to go” to Mass. Mass is the ultimate prayer! It brings us to the Cross, and through the Mass, we sacramentally receive the very body and blood of Jesus. If you want to learn how to pray, take your clue from the Mass and the other sacraments.

2. Devotionals or Prayer books

If you are struggling the pray, going through a dry spell, or just can’t find the words, use a devotional or prayer-book. There are A LOT of them out there, any of which are scripture based. There are many that are written by the saints. Really, there are so many kinds of devotionals out there that one is bound to resonate with you. And, don’t forget the Bible! Praying the scriptures is a wonderful way to pray and I will be devoting a whole post (FB Live) dedicated to Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures.

If you don’t want to use a book, you can pray other traditional prayers such as the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or Hail Holy Queen.

3. Use a Formula

There really isn’t a formula, per se for prayer but you may have heard of the acronym ACTS. ACTS stands for Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication. If you look at the Our Father, the prayer Jesus gave to His disciples, it has elements of these in the prayer. (For the interest of time and space, I will leave it to you to pray through the Our Father Yourself and pick out the elements).

This acronym gives a balanced way for praying. Do you notice that adoration, contrition, and thanksgiving come BEFORE supplication? So often, the majority of our prayer consists of asking for things – things for ourselves and things for other people. But, that should be last.

The majority of our prayer should consist of adoring God and praising Him, showing sorrow for our sins and the sins of others, and thanking Him for all the blessings and graces He showers upon us daily. Only then should we petition Him for our needs.

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EDT and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EDT. I hope you will join me! Today (Monday), I will expound some more on today’s topic of how to pray and sharing a couple more ways to pray. Be there!

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

Back to Basics: Types of Prayer

We are going back to basics again and reminding ourselves about the different types of prayer that are available.

Back to Basics Types of Prayer

There are many ways to pray to suit our every need. There are some who prefer to pray with with others and those who like to pray alone. If you find that prayer is becoming “boring” or monotonous, maybe trying a different type of prayer will motivate you and “shake things up” a bit.

Vocal Prayer

This is the most common and used type of prayer. Vocal prayer is when we say the Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory Be, etc.

Vocal Prayer is also when we just speak from the heart. For the most part, Catholics aren’t great at spontaneous prayer (I’m not!) but we should work at this. Previously, I mentioned that prayer is a conversation with God and part of that is talking to God openly and spontaneously.

Aspirations

Aspirations are very short prayers, usually one word or sentence, that allow us to lift up our hearts to God briefly. “Jesus, I love You.” “Jesus, I trust in you.” “Jesus.” “Lord, have mercy.” “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you. Save souls and unborn children.” These are all examples of an aspiration.

Communal Prayer

Obviously, communal prayer is when two or more people come together to pray. For example: Going to Mass, celebrating the other Sacraments, prayer services, bible studies, spiritual direction, etc.

Private Prayer

As the name implies, private prayer is prayer that we do alone. 🙂 This can include vocal prayer, meditation, and/or contemplation.

Journaling

Yes, journaling can be prayer. In fact, having a prayer journal is a great way to deepen our prayer life. Rather than chronicling our day or stresses, etc., with prayer journaling, we write out our heart to God through freewriting or writing letters to God. Or, you can get creative and write God a poem, a song, draw him pictures, etc. It may make prayer something fun for you, too.

Spiritual Reading

My favorite type of spiritual reading is Lectio Divina, or praying the scriptures slowly and letting the words penetrate your heart.

However, there are many other books that can be read in a prayerful way, especially ones that offer meditations and reflections.

Meditation

Meditation is very similar to mental prayer. You take a small passage of scripture or spiritual concept (for example: heaven) and spend some time  quietly thinking about it. You take the place of a character (s) of the bible passage or you think deeply about the concept. (For example, what is heaven like? What does it mean to be with God in heaven, etc.)

This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2705) describes Meditation:

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.”

Contemplation

With contemplation, which is often seen as similar to meditation, goes deeper. Whereas, with meditation there is thinking involved, but with contemplation, you “let go and let God.” You (try to) empty you minds and hearts of all that is not God and let Him love you and fill your soul.

Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2724) describes contemplation:

Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery.

Normally, although God can do what He wants!, contemplation is an advanced form of prayer and comes forth from time spent in meditation and other forms of prayer.

Ultimately, prayer is all about God and our relationship with Him. There are those who never achieve deep meditation or contemplation and there are those who achieve an extremely deep prayer life within a short time. It boiled down to God’s grace and our willingness to respond to that grace.

Prayer is also a gift from God. Only the Holy Spirit can inspire us to pray, to help us to pray, and to be faithful with prayer. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray and gives us the ability to pray. Come Holy Spirit!

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EDT and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EDT. I hope you will join me! Tomorrow I am going to talk about the obstacles to prayer and how to overcome them. DIFFERENT TIME: ABOUT 2:00 PM EDT. (My son has his homeschool book club and it may run late again.)

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.