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Prayer

A conversation with God.

Prayer is a conversation with God. God speaks to us in our hearts, and we listen. In prayer, we answer God in Jesus’s name. We speak to God as a Father who loves us, and we lift our minds and hearts to him. Prayer is at the heart of Christian life. God is always ready to hear our prayer, and our prayer helps bring us closer to God. God wants us is to live in his friendship, love, and peace, which we do by loving God and neighbor.

How and Why Catholics Pray

As Catholics, we pray by opening our hearts and minds to God. There are many ways to pray. We can pray alone or with others. We pray together in the liturgy and sacraments. When we pray, we join with Jesus and the Church. We can pray in silence or aloud. We can pray with or without words, keeping our focus on God. We can use traditional prayers or original prayers.

Forms of Prayer

We are guided by the Holy Spirit to pray these forms of prayer: adoration, blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.

  • Adoration: In prayers of adoration, we show our love of God as our Creator and Savior.
  • Blessing: In prayers of blessing, we dedicate someone or something to God or make something holy in God’s name. Because God blesses us with many gifts, we can pray for his blessings on people and things.
  • Petition: In prayers of petition, we ask something of God, like forgiveness.
  • Intercession: In prayers of intercession, we ask for something on behalf of a person or a group of people.
  • Thanksgiving: In prayers of thanksgiving, we show our gratitude to God for all that he has given us.
  • Praise: In prayers of praise, we give glory to God for being God.

Paths of Prayer

There are many ways to pray. Catholics may pray with traditional prayers or original prayers about a particular theme or need.

Lectio and Visio Divina are spiritual practices that lead us deeper into prayer and reflection on Scripture. The Latin phrase lectio divina may be translated as “divine reading,” and the phrase visio divina as “divine seeing.”

Meditation is another spiritual practice in which we reflect prayerfully, like in this Stations of the Cross Meditation.

Litanies are prayers that consist of petitions and are often used in processions. Popular litanies can be prayed to the saints, or to God, like this litany to the Holy Spirit.

Learning to Pray

Catholics learn to pray from the example of Jesus, especially in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus prayed to God with patience and trust and we follow his example of praying the Our Father, the most perfect prayer.

Parents and catechists share the task of helping children to pray and providing prayer experiences in many forms. Many Catholics learn their first prayers at home from their parents. When parents pray with their children and share family prayer traditions, they enrich their children’s catechesis. The prayers that we learn as children all guide us to love and care for our families and help us understand that God is our Father and we are part of his family. From there, we learn how to love and care for others.

The Holy Spirit guides the Church to pray. The Communion of Saints prays with us and for us. God’s Word, the Church’s liturgy, and the virtues of faith, hope, and charity are also sources of prayer.

When Catholics Pray

Catholics pray always. We can pray anytime of the year. There are special prayers prayed at different times of the day and different times of the year. We can pray liturgical prayers to celebrate the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, the Triduum, and Pentecost. We can also ask for the intercession of the saints on their feast days or with their own words. For example, we pray the rosary and honor Mary, Mother of God, in a special way during the month of May.

Sadlier offers a variety of prayer resources to support all forms and paths of prayer, including prayer cards, prayer services, retreats, reflections, and meditations.