Prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy."
"The whole reason why we pray is to be united into the vision and contemplation of the God to whom we pray."
The painting above was done by St. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century mystic and Doctor of the Church, as a prayer praising God.
During this summer of new and unexpected events, prayer has perhaps never been so important. Not only does prayer put us in contact with God, it can also create rituals that calm our minds and bodies and give us hope and perspective.
As Catholics, we know that the Mass occupies a special place in our prayer life. As churches open up again, some of us may feel comfortable in venturing back into church physically. But if you feel you should wait longer, Mass can be viewed from St. Catherine's or from many other places all over the world. Since the Mass is the public work of the church, it is important that we make time for it. In the Mass, we unite our own prayers to the saving actions of Jesus and pray together as one people from all over the world, interceding before God for the needs of the entire world. Certainly the world is in need of prayer right now.
We are also called to nurture a personal prayer life as well. St. Paul reminds us that we should "Pray without ceasing." This doesn't mean, though, that we need to be engaged in formal prayer all day. That's not only unrealistic, it's not even really possible. To pray without ceasing means that we are aware of the presence of God as we journey through our day. We take the time, in leisure, to intentionally look for God.
Over the ages, many different forms of praying have been developed to assist us in our own personal prayer life. Some of them are listed here:
Pray the rosary This website, run by the Dominican friars of the Western Province, gives 3 different ways of praying the rosary: without distractions, with Scripture, and with stained glass images.
Pray with Scripture A well known way of praying with scripture is called Lectio Divina. This popular website, Busted Halo, gives the steps involved in praying it.
Pray with Art Visio Divina, praying with art, is closely related to Lectio Divina. The Catholic Health Association has produced a document on how to pray using Visio Divina, for health of mind and body.
Pray with your Imagination - St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, is regarded as the creator of praying with our imaginations. This website from Loyola Press gives examples and instructions on following this prayer method.
Praying with Nature Pope St. John Paul II called nature "our first language." He believed that the language of creation was the first way in which God communicated to us and that before the fall of Adam and Eve, people could easily interpret it. Well-known author and Benedictine oblate, Christine V. Paintner, offers a way to connect to God through nature by focusing on the 4 elements of earth, wind, fire and water.
Praying the Our Father We say this prayer all the time, but do you know why it's considered "the summary of the whole Gospel?" This short article from The Jesuit Post will inform you and hopefully even inspire you to really pray the Our Father.
Praying using Centering Prayer The method called Centering Prayer was begun by 3 Trappist monks. It is a simple, repetitive method of experiencing the presence of God.
Praying with The Jesus Prayer In the short video below, Catholic speaker Matt Fradd explains that the Jesus Prayer comes from the early desert Fathers and combines two elements of Scripture. He explains what it is and how to do it.
Adoration Prayer Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said "spending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth." Our Parish's website even allows you to participate in Adoration from the safety of your home.
These are just a few of the many, many prayers forms that are available to us. The most important thing is to find a personal prayer practice or two that connects you to God, and be faithful to it. If you find that the way you "have always prayed" is no longer sustaining you, trying a different way of prayer might be helpful.