What Is Prayer?
Prayer is awakening to the presence of God in our lives. In prayer, we enter into an on-going conversation with God. And from the perspective of our Christian tradition, we grow in the experience of the Mystery of the Trinity. We come to trust that God will hear our prayer and respond.
There are various forms of prayer, and each of us needs to strive to discover the particular prayer form or forms that bring us closest to the experience of God in our lives. Remember, prayer is a conversation, so we must learn to listen to God. There is always the temptation for prayer to become a monologue rather than a dialogue. We should resist that because in a two-way conversation, we can hear our call, discover the reason for our being created, and understand our talents and gifts, and our purpose for our having them. But most importantly, we can come to appreciate that “we are the Beloved of God.”
The origins of prayer can be traced back to antiquity as humans sought the answers to two basic questions: “Who am I, God?” and “Who are You, God?” Francis of Assisi spent his life pursuing these questions.
Jesus, of course, is our ultimate model for prayer, and the Gospels reveal His prayer habits and the prayers he invoked. We also believe that Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit who is constantly with us and inspires us to pray, listen to the scriptures, and search for the Trinity that dwells within us.
Over the centuries, gifted people, filled with the spirit, have shared other forms of prayer with us. Our lives can be greatly enriched by embracing them.
Samples of Prayer Types
See also Types of Prayers & Devotions
- Pray All Ways by Edward Hays (Ave Maria Press, 1981, 2007)
A new edition of a pioneering book on prayer with a unique interpretation of the biblical command to “pray always.” It contains a new introduction and beautifully designed text for reflective reading and prayer. Each chapter includes ways to pray as well as Hay’s own original creative prayers.
- Prayers for the Domestic Church by Edward Hays (Ave Maria Press, 1979, 2007)
An exploration of the sacredness of the home in a way the author hopes can once again make our communal churches centers of grace and peace that whirl outward.
- When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life by Jane Redmont (Ave Maria Press 2008)
Drawing on her own prayer life as well as the prayer experiences of friends and strangers, Jane Redmont offers a practical compilation of prayer types to enliven any reader’s spiritual practice. The volume is a wide-ranging and substantive introduction to prayer and the life of prayer from a Christian theologian whose warm, thoughtful voice will endear her to a diverse audience of believers and spiritual seekers. The book is a compendium of prayer types (such as centering prayer, praying with icons, and lectio divina) and a warmly personal guide to enlivening your spiritual life.
- Collaborative Ministry Online is a ministry of the Collaborative Ministry Office at Creighton University. It provides a collection of prayers, reflections and links to additional resources.
- Sacred Space is a daily online prayer site and a ministry of the Irish Jesuits. The site originated in the offices of the Jesuit Communication Centre in Ireland in 1999.
- Pray As You Go is a daily prayer session, designed to go wherever you go, to help you pray whenever you find time, but particularly while travelling to and from work, study, etc. A new prayer session is produced every day of the working week and one session for the weekend. It is not a ‘Thought for the Day,’ or a sermon or a bible-study, but rather a framework for your own prayer.
Consider the many opportunities available in parishes, small Christian communities, and local religious communities. Please share your thoughts on prayer retreats and sources for prayer with us.