Prayer & Spirituality
We Each Have a Call to Spirituality
Each of us is called into existence by God as someone special. “I have called you by name: you are mine,” (Isaiah 43: 1). Through Baptism, we are initiated into a special relationship with Christ. Our Church leads and guides us but each person needs to develop a close friendship with Jesus, to know Him intimately. This is not accomplished solely be going through the motions of rituals and ceremonies. We respond to God’s love on a personal level by tapping the resources of God within our inner souls. People are body and soul and both must be cared for and developed if we are to be fully human. We are called to live as humanly as possible. This involves living a life in the Spirit and making God a very real part of our daily lives.
Jesus does not relegate his grace to Church activities only. He follows us into work, into school, into our homes and into the rest of our world. If we are to live spiritually, we must be aware of God in all of these places. Each of us is called to a deeper relationship with God; to develop our spirituality. As God calls us to an intimate friendship and we respond to God’s presence with a vibrant, dynamic faith, we increase in grace (the relationship between humans and God)
Prayer is the most direct way to communicate with God. Catholics have two kinds of prayer: formal and informal. Included in formal prayer are the Mass and other liturgical celebrations, the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), the Rosary, novenas, and other devotions. Among informal prayer are meditation, contemplation, personal reflection, centering oneself in the presence of God, and silence. There is no right way to pray. In nurturing our spiritual life, we can find the way or ways that best allow us to talk and to listen to God.
Everyone Can Pray
To become intimate with God is to develop a life of prayer. Prayer happens when we open ourselves to the Divine realities in our lives. Everyone can pray. Prayer releases inner tensions and provides a person with solace in times of distress. Although no previous experience is required, we become more adept and comfortable with practice. Prayer comes naturally because most people recognize that there are some things in life over which we have no control. As our human limits are exhausted, we open to Divine help and assistance. We “let go and let God.” Prayer becomes the exercise of drawing on the grace of God. It is not so true that “prayer changes things” as that prayer changes us and we change things.
Prayer is as varied as human creativity. In order to communicate meaningfully with God, we adopt a prayer style with which we feel at ease and one that leads us toward deeper spirituality. Catholics have been used to praying in union with others, reciting prayers, and using prayer books. In order to expand our spirituality, it is helpful to consider a variety of prayer forms.
- Traditional Prayer
Most Catholics are familiar with traditional prayers, from saying the rosary together to reciting the Creed. Reciting prayers can seem routine. Ways to recite prayers with more meaning include mulling over each phrase and meditating on the deeper meaning. You may be surprised at the insights you receive. Many people achieve a quieting and serenity by reciting prayers. For example, as the mantra is repeated over and over a spiritual calm results. The rosary, said devoutly, effects a peace and union with God.
- Communal Prayer
When people pray together, the prayer is called “communal.” Communal prayer is used in saying the rosary, offering novena prayers and in praying the Divine Office. Although priests and religious have been praying the Divine Office for centuries, since Vatican II the Liturgy of the Hours is being prayed by many of the laity, either in private or with others.The Divine Office is also referred to as the breviary, meaning the book containing a shortened version of prayers, biblical readings and writings of saints. Instead of having us recite all the psalms at once, the breviary selects certain ones that have a similar theme to recite throughout the day. Instead of reading the book of Job, an episode from it is chosen, with a prayer that helps us reflect on its meaning. When a saint’s feast is celebrated, often the Divine Office contains original writings of the saint.The Divine Office breaks the day into the Office of Readings (which contains a hymn, three psalms, a reading from Scripture and a reading from a saint or other church writers), morning prayer, mid-morning, mid-day, mid-afternoon prayer and evening prayer.
- Shared Prayer
Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is in their midst. It is an enriching experience when people join together to share prayer. The group, in praying with each other and listening to each other expressing his or her prayer, supports each other. This sharing of prayerful concerns leads to fresh insights about how God works in every one’s life and the realization that we all share similar limitations and needs.
- Charismatic Prayer
With the renewal of spirituality comes the deeper realization of the Spirit at work in the world. The charismatic movement focuses on the Holy Spirit alive and active. Charismatic prayer is characterized by a dynamic and enthusiastic expression of God’s praise and honor, in joyful proclamations. The call of charismatic prayer is “The Spirit lives and we gladly proclaim it.” The spirit of the early Christians is recaptured and ritual is replaced by living in the Spirit. People who prefer quiet prayer may find charismatic prayer too loud.
- Instant Spontaneous Prayer
Prayers can be short and on-the-spot. Often these can be repeated over and over, such as the Jesus Prayer that has been used by Eastern Christians for many years. “Lord, Jesus, be merciful to me, a sinner” was seen as a way to keep in constant touch with God. Spontaneous prayer does not have to be formal. We can creatively use any thought which helps us be reflective. Creativity involves freedom. We need to feel so comfortable with the Lord that He is part of every situation we encounter. Just as we don’t allow too much time to pass before we communicate with those we love, we must pray often to remain in constant union with God.
- Creative Prayer
As we become more familiar with Christ and closer in His friendship, we become more attuned to His presence everywhere. All we experience in life can point to a spiritual significance. Such an approach to life requires that we be reflective and that we see deeper meanings in life’s mundane realities. Creative prayer requires that we acknowledge that God comes amidst the bustle of our busy schedules as well as in the silence of our hearts.
- Contemplative Prayer
When we talk about prayer, we usually think of our efforts to reach out to God. We speak and God listens. But prayer is reciprocal. When God speaks, we must listen. We are often too caught up in our daily concerns and prayer is an active exercise, something done, words spoken and rituals performed. Contemplative prayer acts on the quiet sustained relationship between us and God that mirrors the relationship of two people who have spent a lifetime together and have grown old in love. Time together is not spent in endless babble, but in being present to each other. They don’t need to constantly speak. There are no words, only love.Contemplative prayer is the prayer of quiet, intimate being with the Lord. We are present to the Lord and experiencing the peace of His presence. It requires discipline and effort. This type of prayer is experienced in “centering prayer”. We bask in the presence of God, giving time without any words, we focus on one word or thought to assist with centering. Deep insights and a reflective attitude enable us to experience peace and serenity.
Prayer & Spirituality Resources
- The Stations of the Cross
To pray the stations of the cross, click on this site.
- Basic Prayers in English
Basic Catholic prayers in English provided by Catholic Online.
- Basic Prayers in Spanish
Basic Catholic prayers in Spanish.
- Daily Prayer
The Irish Jesuits run this daily prayer site. It provides meditation in the Ignatian style, which can be very instructive in the art of prayer.
- Daily Meditation
St. Anthony Messenger Press provides this daily, minute meditation on the day’s readings at Mass.
- Catholic Prayers
Catholic Prayers from Catholic Online
- New Advent
EWTN Prayer Site
Catholic Prayers by Category
- How To Pray The Rosary
Word for word instructions on how to pray the rosary