Prayer is communion with God. Prayer can be public or personal, spoken or silent. The psalms are prayers we sing; they have been a part of the Church’s communal prayer since the earliest days of the Church. Prayer is communication with a God who loves us and desires to be in a relationship with us.
Jesus teaches us about the importance of prayer. The Gospels record seventeen times that Jesus took time apart to pray. In the Scriptures, Jesus prays often, morning and night. He prays during critical events in his life and he prays before ministering to people in need. Jesus is a model of prayer for us.
Prayer is essential to living a full, Catholic life. The central communal form of prayer for the Church is the Mass.
Traditional and Foundational Prayers
Some of the Church’s most traditional and foundational prayers are as follows:
Grace before Meals
Bless us, O Lord, and these your gifts which we are about to receive from your goodness, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Glory to the Father
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women; and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Act of Contrition
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.
Hail, Holy Queen
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you we cry, the children of Eve; to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this land of exile. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; lead us home at last and show us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus: O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Other Contemporary Ways to Pray
There are also contemporary ways to pray. Talking with God each day, no matter the form or words used, nourishes our relationship and helps it to grow.
Silent prayer or meditation helps us center our thoughts on God’s goodness and offers renewal in a noisy, hectic world.
Lectio Divina is a way of praying with the sacred Scriptures. Find a Scripture passage that speaks to you. Read it out loud and then reflect upon it silently for several minutes. Read it again. Notice any words or phrases that stick with you. Ask God what you are to learn from this passage. Listen.
Keep a prayer journal with all of your wants, needs, thoughts and reflections related to your prayer life.