“The living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2566). “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God, or the petition of good things from him in accord with his will” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 534). “Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2560).
All prayer should lead us to a deeper union with God. We can pray personally and individually, or within our families, or when we worship together at Mass. Although there are many ways to pray, the Church’s tradition highlights four basic elements of prayer:
- Prayer of Blessing and Adoration (we praise God for who He is)
- Prayer of Petition (asking for what we need, including forgiveness)
- Prayer of Intercession (asking for what others need)
- Prayer of Thanksgiving (for what God has given and done)
The Church’s tradition also presents three principal expressions of our prayer:
- Vocal Prayer
- Meditation (a prayerful reflection that begins with the Word of God and engages our thoughts, imagination, emotions and desire in order to deepen our faith, convert our heart and strengthen our will to follow Christ)
- Contemplative Prayer (a gift from God in which we experience a simple gaze upon Him in silence and love)
If you would like to learn more about prayer in addition to what is offered below, Part Four of the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a very beautiful summary of what the Church believes and teaches about the life of prayer.