PRAYING for the Christian is like petrol for the car. Without it we cannot make any progress in our Christian journey. It is essentially letting the God within me communicate with God. It is being caught up in the Divine mystery.
WHAT IS PRAYING? It is essentially the time we spend being conscious of being in the presence of God, and of desiring to know and love Him more each time. As St. Paul taught us, it is the Spirit within who prays for us to communicate with God. Ideally each time we spend quietly in the Divine presence we should learn a little more about our gracious Trinitarian God in our lives.
If we can see praying as not only something we set aside a particular time for each day but as something we can do as we work, run, eat, converse, wait for appointments and yes, even sleep then God will be our constant companion as the Guide within. We then shall be able to turn to Him so easily when we most need Him in those most difficult and discerning
Although we can pray at any time, there are two times that are very important in our Christian journey: the first is the first thing we do on awakening. We commend ourselves into God's care for the day and ask Him to do His will through us and to give us His grace to live so He can do this, and we thank God for the rest of the night. What this means is that we understand that we are simply the instrument through which God works. The second, is at the end of the day when we view the day, thanking God for it, confessing our failures especially to God and others, forgiving any injury to us, and commending ourselves into His and the angels' care for the night.
BE STILL AND KNOW I AM GOD WITHIN YOU
COME AND LEARN OF ME.
LORD, YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU.
2. Public Prayer - a. When we join our fellow Christians to celebrate the Mass. Our time in church should always be prayerful - in preparation to receive the Sacrament and then to enter into the drama of the Mass. It certainly is not the time to catch up on news. Before leaving we make sure we have said thank you for receiving the Lord's life and strength and to be conscious that we must be His body in this world and we should act as He would always.
b. Those times we come together for special prayer such as the Week for Christian Unity.
c. In many parishes the faithful gather to pray the Daily Offices.
VARIOUS TYPES OF PRAYER
1. Private Prayer - This consists of various kinds of prayers
a. PRAISE - when our hearts are full of joy and love for God and His abundant bounty.
b. THANKSGIVING - when our hearts are full of appreciation for God and His immeasurable gifts of love and goodness, often from others too.
c. CONFESSION - when our hearts are full of contrition for our sins against God, our fellow sisters and brothers, and even against ourselves.
d. INTERCESSION - when our hearts are full of concern about the plight and need of others.
e. PETITION - when our hearts are full of concern for our own situation
3. SILENT PRAYER - This kind of prayer allows us to listen to God, to be conscious of God within and in a sense just soak in God. It is indeed a very precious time, and without it we do not make much progress in our prayer life. So it is something we should do each day. Many find the best time is early in the morning when the world is still relatively quiet, and the bustle of the day's routine is still in the future. When we first begin silent prayer or contemplation as it is called, it is best to practise it in the context of saying the Morning Office, or our Morning Prayer or Meditation. It is also helpful to have some helpful eye contact such as a crucifix, statue or ikon - this helps to keep us focus when our mind wanders. When we first begin, do it for a few minutes and as you grow in this practice you will want to spend much more time, even more that is practical for daily commitments. So we learn to snatch a few moments in between those commitments to be quiet and lift up our hearts to our loving God.
4. The Offices - The Opus Dei is prayer of the Church and so all priests and deacons are bound to say them daily as well the religious in the monasteries throughout the world. Many Christians like to join their monastic brothers and sisters in this kind of prayer, especially in saying the Morning and Evening Offices, and Compline. There are many versions of these published to-day and readily accessible such as in Magnificat, Give us this Day, the Franciscan, Celebrating Common Prayer , the Benedictine Breviary and other shortened form of the Divine Offices. One of the gains from praying the Offices is that we discover how wonderful the psalms are, as they speak to us in all our situations as well as their praises and thanks to our loving God.
5. Ejaculatory Prayer - These are prayers that we offer throughout the day and night as we go about our business or leisure. Sometimes they are prayers of help, sometimes a thank you, sometimes a prayer for someone in need, sometimes an offering of praise and gratitude and sometimes an act of contrition. They are usually very simple and short but they help us to know that we cannot do anything on our own, that God is the giver of everything and that no man is an island.
6. Prayers at Meals - Sometimes referred to as grace. To help us to recognise that God is the provider of all we have we ask God to bless our food before eating: "Bless O Lord our food and use it and us to your service, and supply the needs for others for Christ's sake. Amen.
We can also say grace using our own words, especially when we want to emphasise thanksgiving.
Afterwards we can give thanks. "For these and all your mercies may God's name be praised."
Or again in our own word.
7. MEDITATION - We meditate when we read passages of scripture or holy writings in a prayerful way. That is why we seek God's guidance to understand what we read, and to give some insight to our daily lives and to our own spiritual journey. Usually when we spend time meditating or reflecting we pray first, then read the passage, reflect upon what we have read, make some resolution in regards to ourselves and or situation, and pray for grace to fulfill that resolution. It is one of the ways which helps us to know the mind, teaching and will of Christ and His Father better.
OUR HEARTS ARE RESTLESS
UNTIL THEY REST IN YOU.
8. THE LORD'S PRAYER - The very best prayer to pray is the prayer Our Lord taught His disciples. Learn to say it slowly and with meaning. 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them who trespass against us' is the heart of this prayer. Our Lord taught us that the heart of the Gospel is forgiveness. 'How many times should I forgive my brother or sister? Until seventy times seventy.' It is forgiving our brothers and sisters that we shall be forgiven by our heavenly Father. It is also the way to our own freedom.and release. We cannot grow at all in our Christian life unless we forgive and surrender all our doubts and fears to the Lord.