About Christian prayer
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2559) states, “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.”Prayer can be calling upon God for assistance. God desires closeness with us, an intimate relationship. Prayer is communication with God that allows our relationship with Him to develop and grow.“For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” – Saint Therese of LisieuxEveryone is called to live a “vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2558
We can pray alone or with others; we worship together as parish communities at Mass and pray as families. Prayer can be public or private. It can be formal or spontaneous. There are many types of prayer and many different styles of worship, but all center on living and experiencing our relationship with the living God. Each person can develop his or her own style, routine, and rhythm of prayer. Prayer is an essential component of being a Catholic. Prayer helps us form a sense of security and a deeper awareness of our dependence on God.
Many years ago a group of seminarians were gathered and their Novice Master instructed them, “Now remember, you are not allowed to chew gum while you are praying.”
One of the seminarians asked, “But, Father, is it okay to pray while we’re chewing gum?”
“Of course,” the Novice Master replied, leaving them wondering just how to follow these contradictory instructions.
This story illustrates that prayer is both an activity on its own as well as a way of living out one’s entire life. Prayer can be formal or informal, verbal or nonverbal, active or contemplative. Prayer is communicating with God. Just as we talk and share with our best friends what is happening in our lives, so we talk and share with God. Just as we listen to our friends, so we listen to God.
As in human communication, our communication with God can be expressed in a variety of ways. We communicate with God using words and songs, in imagination and silence, and ritually or spontaneously. We can pray in church, our gardens, our cars, or while in the shower. We can also pray lying in bed, as the first thing we do when we awake, and as the last thing we do as we drift off to sleep. One of the characteristics of prayer we as Catholics believe is that with the right intention every moment of the day—all our hopes, works, joys, and sufferings—can become our prayer.
Vocal prayer is giving voice to what is stirring in our hearts and in our souls. Vocal prayer can be as simple and uplifting as “Thank you, God, for this beautiful morning.” It can be as formal as a Mass celebrating a very special occasion. It can be as intense and immediate as the prayer Jesus uttered in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Most Catholics learn traditional prayers from the time they were young. These normally include the Sign of the Cross, the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer, and a mealtime blessing. They might also include prayers at waking and at bedtime. Over time many people learn other prayers, such as the Memorare, a prayer asking Mary, the mother of God, to pray for us in our time of need.
Catholics often pray in groups. When two or more people gather together to raise their minds and hearts to God in prayer, their prayer is called communal prayer. Examples of communal prayer are the Rosary, devotional prayers including novenas and litanies, classroom prayers, and, most importantly, the Mass. Standing together at Mass reciting the Creed (“I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth . . .”) is a powerful experience that both expresses and shapes our faith. Though we might say the same prayers over the course of our lives, their meaning grows and changes with our life experiences. Surely, the Lord’s Prayer means something vastly different to a person who has just buried his or her father than it does to a child who still has only vague notions about God. Our vocal prayers are not just “going through the motions,” they are the expression of a living faith.
At Mass the presider invites each one of us to “Lift up your hearts.” When we honestly say “We lift them up to the Lord,” we know we are truly praying, for that is what prayer is—lifting our hearts to God.
To meditate is to reflect on or think about God. When we meditate, we keep our attention and focus on God so that we can recognize his presence in our daily lives and respond to what God is asking of us. When we meditate, a variety of things can help us to concentrate and to spark our imaginations. We may use Scripture, particularly the Gospels; traditional prayers; writings of the spiritual fathers; religious images; or history—the page on which the “today” of God is written. Meditation, also known as reflective prayer, leads us to conversation with God. Remembering that we are in God’s presence, we can listen to him speak to us. We enter into God’s sacred time and space and know that he is with us at all times and in all places.
When we rest quietly in God’s presence, we engage in contemplation. In contemplation we spend time with God in wordless silence, aware that he is with us. To understand how contemplation occurs, we can compare it with thinking on—or contemplating—a beautiful sunset. We are conscious of its impact, but our reaction is wordless. When we experience God personally, we feel his love and wait for him to speak to us in his own way. The key is to make time to relax and listen in God’s presence, to seek union with the God who loves us.How Catholics Pray
This site provides a vast number of traditional Catholic prayers for all occasions and devotions.
Prayer Online Website: Are you looking for ideas to spice up your prayer life? There are many creative ideas available on how you can improve your prayer life, ranging from thought-provoking to uplifting. Read on for some suggestions.
The Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Prayer Before Meals
Act of Contrition
Act of Contrition – Children’s Version
Because you are so good and with your help
I will try not to sin again.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Hail Holy Queen
A common reading and shared reflection on the Scriptures, leading to shared prayer and transformation of life. Lectio in community is more than just personal lectio done together: it is a real sharing of the various elements of lectio.
In 2012 the Australian Catholic Bishops have invited us to ‘start afresh from Christ’. One of the ways that they have suggested we do this is to use one of the oldest and most revered forms of prayers in the church – Lectio Divina.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recently wrote “ If [Lectio Divina] is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church – I am convinced of it – a new spiritual springtime.”
In summary then…
- Chose a text of scripture you wish to pray
- Place yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent (no matter how long this takes)
- Turn to the text and read it slowly and gently
- Take a word or phrase that speaks to you
- Speak to God
- Listen to God
- Thank him
Concluding Prayer: Glory be to the Father and to the Son, as it was in the beginning is now and every shall be world without end. Amen.
Lectio – Reading:Choose a reading from the beginning of a Gospel or choose the reading of the day or perhaps one of the Readings from Sunday Mass. The leader reads aloud slowly from the beginning of the text. We listen for a word or phrase that strike us.
Meditatio – Meditating:The person who has read the scripture invites each person to share the word or phrase which has struck them. We do not comment. We just listen and let the word stay with us. We let the word touch us allowing silence in between each contribution. Ask participants to share what is the passage telling you about your life? What have we learned about God from the passage and what have we learned about our own faith life?
Oratio – Praying:The same passage is read again very slowly. The leader then invites each person to share the meaning of the word or phrase they each have chosen. Participants are then invited to share their prayer which emerges from the text aloud.
Contemplatio – Contemplating:We then remain silent and wait for God. Do not expect this to happen; go with it if it does. God shapes us by the feelings of his divine presence and absence.
Action:The same passage is read again very slowly. The leader asks people to share a prayer about what God is calling that person to do today or this week based on the words which have struck them. Give time for participants to share what they have chosen. “Daily and hourly till the soil of the heart with the Gospel plough.”
Pray the Holy Rosary
The Rosary is not only a mental prayer, but also a vocal prayer in which we meditate on the virtues of the Life, Death, Passion and Glory of Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary.
The rosary owes its origin to St. Dominic.
1. Hold the cross of the Rosary in your right hand and bless yourself with the Cross, saying, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
2. Still holding the Cross, say, The “Apostles’ Creed.”
3. On the first large bead after the Cross, say the Our Father;
On the next three small beads, say the Hail Mary, for the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity; after the third Hail Mary, say
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”
4. Then announce the first mysteries.
Recite the “Our Father” on the large bead, followed by 10 “Hail Mary’s” on the smaller beads, then say, the “Glory Be” for each decade of the Rosary. There are five decades for each Mystery.
After each Mystery, recite
” O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls to Heaven especially those who are most in need of Thy Mercy.”
The Joyful Mysteries:
1. The Annunciation
2. The Visitation
3. The Nativity
4. The Presentation
5. Finding in the Temple
The Luminous Mysteries (Mysteries of Light):
1. The Baptism of the Lord
2. The Wedding of Cana
3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom
4. The Transfiguration
5. The Institution of the Eucharist
The Sorrowful Mysteries:
1. Agony in the Garden
2. Scourging at the Pillar
3. Crowning with Thorns
4. Carrying the Cross
5. The Crucifixion
The Glorious Mysteries:
1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4. The Assumption
5. The Coronation of B.V.M.
The Hail Holy Queen (said after the completion of the five mysteries)
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, Hail our life, our sweetness and our Hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, O most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement! O loving! O sweet Virgin Mary!
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray
O God, whose only begotten Son,
By His life, death and resurrection has purchased for us
The rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that
Meditating upon these mysteries in the most Holy Rosary of
The Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and
Obtain what they promise: through the same Christ, our Lord.
For the intentions of the Holy Father, recite one “Our Father,” one “Hail Mary,” and a “Glory Be.”
In the name of The Father, and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit . Amen.
The Rosary as a Tool for Mediation:
Music suitable for Prayer
Michael Mangan – Litmus productions: Litmus productions
Enrich your liturgies and religion curriculum with engaging music and drama resources from Michael Mangan and Anne Frawley-Mangan.
Andrew Chinn – Butterfly Music: Butterfly Music
Butterfly Music is the music of Andrew Chinn and friends. Since 2000 Andrew has been recording Christian music for children (and some for adults too) for use in Religious Education and liturgy. Andrew has an extensive background in Catholic education having taught in Catholic primary (elementary) schools in Sydney for twenty years. He has a Bachelor of Education, a Graduate Diploma in Religious Education and a Masters in Educational Leadership.
The mission of Butterfly Music and Andrew Chinn is to provide quality resources to enhance the teaching of Religious Education with a particular emphasis on the Catholic faith, and to create and perform music to enhance the celebration of liturgies in school and parish settings. Andrew tours extensively around Australia, New Zealand and North America, visiting schools and parishes, sharing his faith through music.
John Burland – John Burland Website.
John Burland is an educator and composer who has been writing and recording religious music for children and adults for over twenty years. Each year John travels to more than one hundred Catholic communities celebrating our Catholic faith through the great gifts of music and song. He is a sought after keynote speaker, workshop leader and published author in the area of music and catechesis. For the past twenty years John has been working in Catholic schools throughout the Sydney Archdiocese holding a variety of executive positions including that of Religious Education Coordinator and Assistant Principal. John is currently the Project Officer for Liturgy/ Music for Sydney Catholic Schools, Australia, where he conducts workshops, celebrations and reflection days for children, teachers and parish communities. He is also a keynote speaker, composer and touring musician for Our Sunday Visitor Curriculum Division, in the United States.