Essentially prayer is communication with the Lord whom we love and is as necessary for us as communication is for any two persons who expect their relationship to continue. Can you imagine having a best friend (or husband or wife) to whom you never spoke? Sometimes our prayer takes the form of reciting prayers we have come to love or appreciate. Often our prayer is meditative; we spend time reflecting who God is, who we are and what that relationship means for us. Often we will pray with the Scriptures because that is one way that we can come to know God better and to know how we are to live. The Gospels are especially important because our lives are based on them. Our Founder has told us that the Gospel is the only rule we really need; it is our guide to a life of holiness.

Because we have chosen a way of life which says by its very nature that God is most important, prayer has a central role in our lives. Since prayer is so important, religious spend approximately two hours a day in prayer; part of that time with others, at Mass and in common oral prayer; part alone, in reading and quiet attentiveness. Probably the main benefit of prayer is that it makes us more sensitive to God's activity in the people, events and circumstances of daily life.

There are times when we don't feel like praying just as athletes don't always feel like practicing. Some times we don’t even feel as if we can pray or we get so distracted at prayer. However, because prayer is so important to us, we act on motives deeper than feelings, and do what we know needs to be done. What is important is that we stay in touch with the God to whom we have given our lives. For a more extended answer you may want to see one of these brief articles:

In a Word, Prayer Is... What is Prayer- Vanier What is Prayer - Green
To Whom Do I Pray Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire The Gift of Prayer
A Personal Response to God’s Presence  

Basically we can speak of three types of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplation.

Vocal Prayer:
In vocal prayer we use words, we use our voices. Sometimes the words are those of our tradition (the Our Father, the Rosary,etc.); at other times they are our own, rising up within us as we spend time with God, with Christ. It is basically an external form of prayer and therefore it is what we use when we pray together. Religious, for example, pray the prayers of Mass and most pray the prayers of the Divine Office. Each community has certain prayers that are part of their tradition. Praying them together gives them a sense not only of their relationship with God but also with each other.

In meditation we use our minds, our imaginations, our emotions. Meditation begins with some form of reading, especially from the Gospels, that helps us to understand some aspect of our Christian life, our relationship with God. It can involve things, like icons or candles, to help us to reflect on God and our relationship with the Trinity. These readings and reflections help us to move into prayer. They enable us to pray, as it were, from the heart where words are not always necessary. There are many a number of methods of meditation that have come down to us from the spiritual masters of our tradition.

Where meditation seeks understanding, contemplation seeks the God “whom my soul loves.” (Song of Songs, 1:7) It is an intense form of prayer that seeks the face of God while it recognizes that such prayer is truly a gift. So we open ourselves to the presence of God in quiet, freeing our minds — as best we can — and wait on the Lord. Here, too, the spiritual masters have taught us ways to help us in this form of prayer so that we can do our part as we wait for God to enter into our prayer.

These are general terms with which we speak about prayer. Prayer can take many forms, some more formal, some less; some which emphasize one dimension of our being, some another (for example, the mind, the heart, the will). In the beginning it is helpful to try different forms of prayer to find one that suits you best.

You may wish to read one of the following brief articles to expand
your understanding of how you might pray:

Prayer of a Child Prayer 101: A Beginner’s Guide
Centering Prayer An Awareness Examen
Finding God in the Events of Your Life Remembering God’s Presence in My History
Writing a Meditation on a Personal Experience  

   Prayer is essentially a matter of our recognizing our relationship to God. It recognizes that the God who loved us enough to create us in the very image of Divine Love not only created us and continues to create us each day but that loving God dwells within us. Paul asks the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and theat God’s Spirit dwells in you.?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Because God is as near to us as our very own heartbeat, we can seek to know God in the very depths of our being. That is where we get in touch, make contact with Divine Love and Mercy. That is why in those interior forms of prayer, we try to create an inner space, a space free from the usual cares of everyday, where we can be open the presence of God within us.

To understand more about making room for God in your prayer life, you may wish to read one of these articles:

Why Pray What Prayer Is - Thomas Green
How to Pray - Ask the Saints To Whom Do I Pray?
Creating an Inner Space Coming into the Presence of God

  Devotional reading of the Scriptures has always been a wellspring of both Jewish and Christian spiritual life. In devotional reading we seek a deeper and more authentic relationship with the God in whom we live and move and have our being, rather than to learn information and master the content of texts. As we open ourselves to the words of Scripture, we provide an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to pray in us. For us, the praying of Scripture is a way for us to live out our consecration and to come to know the God to whom we have given our lives.

In this style of prayer, because we are not trying to "cover ground" or "get through" a certain amount of text, we select a short passage of Scripture with which to pray, often from the readings for the day’s liturgy. We will read it slowly with an attentive and listening heart. As we make ourselves available for God to speak a word to us personally, we bring to our listening all of our faculties of "hearing" mind, emotion, memory, and imagination; hopes, intuitions, and visions. As we grow in this form of prayer, we find that God is faithful companion, molding us more and more into the image of the Son.

Learning to pray with and through the Scriptures is something we can all learn. If you are interested in getting started you might want to read one of the following:

Accepting the Embrace of God - The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina
  The Practice of Lectio Devina - Resting in God’s Embrace
    Praying with Scripture - Fr. Armand Nigro
      Praying the Scriptures in the Ignatian Tradition
        Praying the Scriptures in the Benedictine Tradition
          Using Scripture in Prayer and Spiritual Direction
            Pondering the Scriptures with your Heart
              Gospel Contemplation - A Fuller Experience
                A Written Meditation on Scripture

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