Prayer and Forms of Prayer
God is always with us. He wants us to talk to him and to listen to him. In prayer we raise our hearts and minds to God. We are able to speak to and listen to God because, through the Holy Spirit, God teaches us how to pray.
We Pray in Many Ways
Because prayer is so important, the Church teaches us to pray often and in many ways. Sometimes we bless or adore God (prayer of blessing and adoration). Other times we ask God for something for ourselves (prayer of petition). Sometimes we pray for others (prayer of intercession). We also thank God in prayer (prayer of thanksgiving). Finally, we can also praise God (prayer of praise). We can pray silently or aloud. We can pray alone or with others. Praying with others is called communal prayer.
We Meditate and Contemplate
One way to pray is to meditate. To meditate is to think about God. We try to keep our attention and focus on God. In meditation we may use Scripture, prayer books, or icons, which are religious images, to help us concentrate and to spark our imagination.
Another way to pray is to contemplate. This means that we rest quietly in God’s presence.
We Get Ready to Pray
We live in a very busy, noisy, and fast-paced world. Sometimes, because of this, we have difficulty concentrating. In order to meditate or reflect, we need to prepare ourselves.
We can get ready for meditation by resting our bodies in a comfortable position. Sitting with our backs straight and both feet on the floor is one comfortable position. We can close our eyes, fold our hands comfortably in front of us, and silently take a deep breath and then let it out slowly. We can establish a rhythm by slowly counting to three while breathing in and slowly counting to three while breathing out. Concentrating on our breathing helps us to quiet our thoughts.
We Avoid Distractions
If we become distracted by thinking about something, such as the day at school or work, we can just go back to thinking about our breathing.
After a little practice we will be able to avoid distractions, pray with our imagination, and spend time with God or Jesus in our hearts.