Our Catholic Faith - Prayer
"Great is the mystery of the faith!" The Church professes this mystery in the Apostles' Creed and celebrates it in the sacramental liturgy, so that the life of the faithful may be conformed to Christ in the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Faith. This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer. (CCC §2558).
"Prayer is speaking and listening to God and desiring to be united with God and to do his will". (Evangelium, CTS 2009)
Why do we pray to God?
We pray to God because his is God. It is therefore right to adore him, thank him, and repent before him. We also pray because he listens to our prayers and will act on our behalf when we pray. We pray to come to know God personally - and this is our greatest happiness.
Christian prayer involves one or more of the following actions before God:
Adoration is an act offered to God, such as a psalm of praise or a sacrifice which ackowledges his supreme perfection and our dependence.
Thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude to God for his bounty in satisfying our general or particular needs and especially for his gift of grace.
Repentance is a recognition of the wrong we have done to God by sin, a detestation of the evil effects of sin and a desire to turn from evil and do good.
Petition and Intercession is the asking of proper gifts or graces from God, such as material, moral and spiritual good and protection, or rescue from evils. Petition is for oneself; intercession is for others.
Find out more about the Catholic Church:
Mistaken ideas about prayer.
Is prayer just in the mind? No. God acts when we pray and frequently causes miraculous changes in ourselves and in the world.
Does prayer seek a mental void? No. Prayer is not a mental exercise to empty the mind, as in Zen Buddhism or yoga. Prayer always has God and the things of God as a focus.
Is prayer just a technique? Prayer is never a ritual technique like magic, simply seeking power or other benefits. Christian prayer leads to the knowledge and love of God.
Adapted from the Evangelium course by Fr Marcus Holden & Fr Andrew Pinsent (CTS 2009).
How to Pray - a short guide:
- Find a time when you can be still and quiet before the Lord - the best place for this is in a Catholic Church before the Blessed Sacrament. You can find this by looking for the dome or box, usually with a coloured curtain over it, called the tabernacle. This is where Christ, present in the Eucharist, is waiting for you. It is also marked by white or red lamps burning by it to represent the eternal presence within.
- Ask God to help you to pray - try a simple prayer like this: "Come Holy Ghost, fill my heart and kindle within me the fire of your love". Make the sign of the cross over yourself and try to kneel if you are able.
- Spend some time in God's presence, reflect on all that is good in the world, and give God thanks for that. Then spend some time asking for forgiveness for those things you have done wrong, and ask God to guide you closer to him.
- At the end, ask Mary to help you with her prayers by saying "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."