As spiritual beings we need contact with our Creator and that is prayer. In theology, prayer is described as lifting up our minds and hearts to God. There is an essence of prayer in all that we do provided that what we do and think is by nature good.
The condition of any prayer is sincerity, which means our prayer is raised to God for his glory and for his help. Furthermore, we need an mind-set of
• awareness, by which we try to avoid external and internal interruption so that our purpose of prayer is worshipping God
• humility, as the inner attitude and posture that we depend on Him
• perseverance, regardless of feeling and effort we continue to raise our hands and voices to God and not to give up
• confidence which is based on the promise of God, that He hears all our prayers and as a loving Father cares for us and helps us in his own way.
There are many categories of prayer depending on the subject and aim of the prayer. The categories are:
• gesticular prayer
• vocal prayer
Gesticular prayer can be described as our gestures and posture which express the above conditions, e.g. raising of hands, kneeling, bowing etc.
Vocal prayer is spoken aloud or silently. It can includes both individual or group prayer.
Meditation and contemplation are forms of individual and private prayer which require practice and the grace of God to accomplish.
In meditation, I do the work, for example, of thinking about a passage of scripture, or imagining events in the life of Jesus etc.
Contemplation is initiated by God, who draws me into his presence.
As Christians we learn our basic prayers from our parents and/or from school. The basic prayers are:
• The Sign of the Cross
• Our Father (The Lord’s Prayer)
• Hail Mary
• Glory be to the Father
• The Apostles’ Creed
Other prayers are to the angels and saints; prayers of faith, hope and love and acts of contrition; and prayers of petition.
But prayer needs to be developed all the time so that we grow spiritually and deepen our personal contact with our loving God.
Here we look at prayers that we share in our Parish and home life.
In our parish community we have for a long time developed particular community prayer where we invite others to join us and to learn more about it. An important part of our prayer life is preparing ourselves when we come into church to take part in the Liturgy.
The summit of all prayer is the Sacrament of the Eucharist which is thanksgiving, praising and unity with God.
A few suggestions for prayer and Christian meditation
THE SULPICIAN METHOD OF MEDITATION (after St Sulpice)
Conduct your meditation in the spirit and conviction that, by the will of God, you are 'carried in the arms of Mary'.
We use this prayer because we know that left to ourselves we always fail, but in our helplessness,
Mary prays with us and for us.
PREPARATION – opening prayer in these or similar words
Father, I believe that You are by my side… That I am encompassed [enfolded] by Your loving presence… Jesus I am sorry for my infidelities… Of myself, I am incapable of prayer, and so I ask you, Lord, for the gift of prayer, Holy Spirit, the Spirit of grace and light, Sanctifier of souls, Father of the poor open my heart.
A. ADORATION - (Jesus in front of my eyes)
I read a chosen text. I read it again and stop at any word or phrase that strikes me. I think deeply about the words directed to me;
How do I understand them? What does Jesus want to tell me through them?
I will listen intently to His words. With my will and all my being (affections), I want to engage myself in reading and pondering over this fragment…
In accordance with the fragments read, I will try to articulate my desires and feelings of:
I will look at myself and see how very far I am from realising Jesus' words in my life,
I will try to express to Him my contrition.
B. 'COMMUNION' WITH JESUS - (Jesus in my heart)
I will try to spiritually internalize and ponder and pray over the text, so as to make it my own.
I will hunger for Jesus to come to me and instil in me everything that His words carry with them.
I will try to participate in:
Jesus, I want Your thoughts, desires, and pains to become my thoughts, desires, and pains…
Enter into my inner 'self', take my will for Yourself… 'yours I want to be'
I want to plunge into You and live for You…
C. COOPERATION - (Jesus in my hands)
If the words of the texts, pondered over and experienced with Jesus are to bear fruit… If the words that I have been listening to intently, are to become 'flesh'… What definite form (shapes) are they to take in my life? Then I will formulate concrete resolutions for the day:
O Holy Spirit, make me cooperate with your grace. . With your help I will try today to … I desire that which You are calling me to, but with You and in You…
I am sorry, Lord, for all the distractions and infidelities which arose through my own fault during this prayer..
I thank You for the graces I have received.
The fruit of this prayer, I entrust to you, Mary, so that you may protect them and embrace them through your intercession…
There are also other methods: Ignatian meditation based on Scripture, Lectio Divina, Centering prayer based on the repetition of e.g. the Jesus Prayer.
The following are devotions and prayers in our parish; adoration, daily prayer, rosary, Stations of the Cross and other devotions.