What is prayer? For a Catholic prayer is simply talking with God.


St. Teresa of Avila sums up prayer in a simple but powerful definition:" "Prayer is nothing else but being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing in secret with him."


Prayer is a conversation to God from the heart. And as a conversation, prayer comes from both sides—we talk to God, and we listen as he talks to us. Prayer is "the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God" (CCC 2559).


Prayer does not happen only when we go to church, or kneel before the tabernacle, or pray the Rosary with our families. You can pray in our actions, in quiet moments sandwiched between errands, and in all of our activities and daily tasks. When you are cleaning your house, or making a meal, you can say, from the bottom of your heart, "Jesus, I offer this out of love for you," and in that moment, you have made a beautiful prayer.


"We meditate before, during, and after everything we do. The prophet says: 'I will pray, and then I will understand.' This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work. In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others." — St. Charles Borromeo


We read in the Gospels that Jesus frequently went to the mountains to pray to God our Father. Prayer was key to his ministry, the way he came to know his Father's will. In prayer, Jesus found the strength to follow God's will, even when God asked him to suffer and die on the Cross.


Think of his prayer in Gethsemane—Jesus prayed that God would reveal his will, and give him the strength and courage to face the cross. His prayer helped him to ultimately accept the will of God, so that he might give his life for us. If prayer was so necessary for Jesus, imagine how much more we need it in our lives! And by his prayer, Jesus was giving us an example to follow in our own lives.


If we want to be true disciples of Christ, we need to lead lives of prayer. We need to learn God's will for our lives, and ask for the strength to fulfill it, just like Jesus did.


"You go to prayer; to become a bonfire, a living flame, giving light and heat." — St. Josemaria Escriva


How can we pray? There are four different types of prayer:


  1. Blessing and adoration (praising God)
  2. Prayer of petition (asking for what we need)
  3. Prayer of intercession (asking for what others need)
  4. Prayer of thanksgiving (for all the blessings in our lives) Learning to pray is more than simply opening our hearts and minds. To create a prayerful life, we must begin strong habits and practices of faith.


Here are some tips that will help you get started in your meditation:


  1. Subscribe to a website where you can receive daily meditations.
  2. Read the Word of God, especially the Book of Psalms and the Gospels.
  3. Read a book about Catholic spirituality, or about the lives of the saints.
  4. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
  5. Use a Catholic prayer book, and focus on the prayers that help you the most.
  6. Find a prayer group in your parish where you can pray in community. Be patient when you start praying. Remember, building a life of prayer is like building muscle through exercise. You cannot start with the heavy weights at the gym; you would not expect to do the same with prayer! If you start with the hardest exercise, you will wear yourself out, and you will not want to do it again. But if you build on each step, little by little, before you know it, you will be lifting the most beautiful of prayers to God!
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