Seeking the Will of God
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” Prayer is communion with God and is an essential component of being a Catholic. We are probably all familiar with the second part of this definition. Who among us, in some time of need or distress, has not called upon God for assistance? But, what does the first part of this definition really mean? What does it mean to raise one’s mind and heart to God?
Most of us can come to a basic understanding of this by answering the question, “What does it mean to unite our mind and heart with a fellow human?” We do this by talking to the person and spending time with them, sharing our thoughts, emotions, experiences, values and goals, by putting our trust in someone and by demonstrating our own trustworthiness. The more we spend time with, communicate and work together toward common objectives, the closer relationship we develop with that person. In the closest relationships, we often are happy just to be in the presence of that person; when we deeply love someone we want to share all of their experiences. This is also what it means to raise one’s mind and heart to God. God wants a close, intimate relationship with us, a relationship which involves Him in every aspect of our lives. He wants us to trust in Him, to share our good times and troubles, to request His assistance. But we will not have such a relationship if we fail to spend time with Him. We do this through prayer.
How to Pray
The basic forms of prayer include the following.
Prayer of Blessing and Adoration
In this prayer we express praise and honor to God. Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immensely that God is God. God is praised out of love for Him, for no other reason than He is God and we praise Him simply because HE IS. The prayer of praise unites us to one another as the Church Universal in her devotion to Christ and also anticipates the second coming of Our Lord in which “all sing the praise and glory of Him who sits on the throne.”
Prayer of Petition
When we collect ourselves in prayer, acknowledge the greatness of God and humbly acknowledge who we are – men and women in deep need of God’s grace, then follows petition & intercession. By petition we ask God for forgiveness and mercy (from sin in our lives), we plead for His help and we invoke and entreat God for His help and deliverance for the needs of others, most especially during their sufferings.
Prayer of Intercession
This form of prayer is prayer on behalf of others. Because we know that our Lady and the saints intercede for us before God, the Church encourages us to pray to them for their intercession. Such prayer can bring us great strength and courage and also great peace of mind and heart.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
This form of prayer helps us to be grateful for God's many blessings, spiritual and temporal, and helps us to recognize and appreciate all the good things God gives to us. The prayer of thanksgiving which comes from the heart is a response to petitions/prayers answered by God and can be a reminder of God’s help in times of great difficulty (i.e. the saints thanked God for all that He had done for them, even during moments of death/martydom.
Expressions of Prayer
The Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer.
Founded on the union of body and soul in human nature, associates the body with the interior prayer of the heart, following Christ's example of praying to His Father and teaching the Our Father to His disciples.
A prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. Its goal is to make our own in faith the subject considered, by confronting it with the reality of our own life.
Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through His Spirit, that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith and we may be grounded in love.
The Battle for Prayer
Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and He Himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in His name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer. In the battle of prayer, we must face in ourselves and around us erroneous notions of prayer. Some people view prayer as a simple psychological activity, others as an effort of concentration to reach a mental void. Still others reduce prayer to ritual words and postures. Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they "don't have the time." Those who seek God by prayer are quickly discouraged because they do not know that prayer comes also from the Holy Spirit and not from themselves alone. Our battle has to confront what we experience as failure in prayer: discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have "great possessions," we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift; and so forth. The conclusion is always the same: what good does it do to pray? To overcome these obstacles, we must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance.
Tips for Praying
- Find a quiet place and time. Prayer can be done anywhere but it is good to have a place that is conducive to relaxing and focusing our attention on God. Finding a regular time to pray each day can also be helpful to making prayer an important daily routine.
- Calm yourself and put away distractions.
- Use formal prayers or speak what you feel to God, or a combination of each. It is important to note that there is no “right” way to pray. Experiment with styles and forms of prayer. Prayer is an ongoing, developing relationship with God.
- Take time to listen. God does speak to us in prayer but we need to listen with our hearts. Be open to what God is telling you rather than just on what you want to or expect to hear.
- Have a proper attitude. Prayer requires openness to God and a desire to worship and get to know God better.
- Basic Catholic Prayers
- Daily Meditations from the Pope
- Daily Mass Readings
- How to Pray the Rosary
- Novena Prayers
- Divine Mercy
- The Way of the Cross
- Prayers to Jesus
- Marian Prayers
- Liturgy of the Hours
- Minute Meditations
- Apostleship of Prayer
Do you have a prayer request?
How can I request a Mass Intention?
Do you offer Eucharistic Adoration?
What are some basic Catholic Prayers?
How do I pray the Rosary?
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