Faith Formation

Prayers

Prayer is the lifting of our hearts and minds to God.  Sometimes it's in the form of a conversation.  Other times it consists of requests or acts of intercession.  Prayer can also be thanksgiving, praise, and adoration given to God.  Whatever form our prayer takes, it always brings our hearts closer to God's heart, our minds closer to His, and brings our wills and desires more in line with God's will.

To grow in the spiritual life, we must make time for prayer.  Deliberately set apart time for prayer.  This could be 15 minutes in the morning, or 10 minutes in the evening.  Whatever you do, in this time of prayer, share whatever is on your heart with the Lord.  Be sure to thank Him for his gifts in your life, intercede for those around you, and praise Him with your whole heart.  This is spontaneous prayer, and it is absolutely essential and necessary to a strong prayer life.

But sometimes we don't know what to say, or our spontaneous prayers focus too much on one or two things.  This is where written prayers show their beauty and strength.  These prayers, when prayed from the heart, remind us of the great mercies, glories, and awesome love of our God.  They help us articulate our feelings and focus on growth in all areas of the spiritual life.  They also provide rhythm and structure, which provide a foundation for a strong prayer life.

Below are several different versions of prayer.  Try them out, and see which ones help you grow closer to God and help you share your heart with Him.  Be sure to pray every day, and see how quickly and powerfully God can move in your life.

The Divine Mercy Chaplet

This short, but powerful, prayer was given to St. Faustina Kowalska by Jesus through famous apparitions regarding His great mercy.  The chaplet is a prayer that places us in the great mercy of the Father, by asking Him, for the sake of the sorrowful passion of His Son, to have mercy on us and on the whole world.  Through this simple prayer, the infinite ocean of God's mercy can enter our hearts and the world.

Lectio Divina

The Latin phrase lectio divina literally means, "divine reading."  It is a particular way of praying the Scriptures using a method of meditation that leads us from listening to the Word of God to responding to His call for us today.

The Jesus Prayer

The Jesus prayer is a simple but profound one:  "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."  It reminds us of powerful truths of our faith:  that Jesus is the Son of God; He is the Lord who saved us; we are in need of His mercy; we are sinners striving to be saints.  This prayer can be prayed meditatively by breathing in while saying the first half of it, and breathing out during the second.  It keeps the central meaning of our faith on our hearts and minds, asks God for forgiveness, and brings our hearts close to the Lord throughout the day.

The Rosary

The Rosary is a meditative prayer that is meant to lead to deeper contemplation of the mysteries of the life of Christ, alongside the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In each decade (set of 10 Hail Marys), we reflect on a particular mystery of Christ's life, what it means for our lives today, and how God is calling us to respond to His action in our lives.  You can find the prayers and mysteries involved in the rosary here.

The linked website provides many helps to pray a rosary without distraction.  Explore this website for more information about the rosary, and the Dominicans, who have a special relationship with it since the days of St. Dominic.

Novenas

Novenas are popular prayers of preparation, intercession, and petition.  Based on the nine days (hence the name novena) between the Ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that Mary, the Apostles, and the first disciples spent praying, these prayers are designed to ask God for whatever you request over the course of nine days.  Traditionally they are said the nine days before a special feast, but they can be prayed anytime throughout the year.

The Novena to the Sacred Heart is a specially recommended novena.

Praying With the Saints

The Saints are powerful intercessors, examples, and friends on our journey to join them in heaven.  There are tons of prayers asking for the intercession of saints, or prayers addressed to God inspired by their example.  You can find all sorts of prayers linked above, and many more linked here.

Litanies

Litanies are simple prayers that focus on a spiritual thought or request through a series of short prayers.  In many instances, these short prayers make use of different titles of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the saints.  These different titles help us reflect on the great mysteries of our faith and what we request from God.  They also affirm our need for God and his grace, repeating over and over, "have mercy on us" to the Lord, or "pray for us" to the saints.  The link in the title lists a few popular litanies, and you can find many more here.

The Liturgy of the Hours

The Liturgy of the Hours, contained in what is commonly called the Breviary, is the official daily prayer of the Church.  Based on the psalms and other Scriptures, it is the prayer that priests, deacons, religious, and laypeople say every day around the world, to intercede for the Church and sanctify their day.  Even if you pray this liturgy individually, you are participating in a liturgy with the whole Church on earth and in heaven!  Morning prayer is a great way to start your day, and night prayer could be a way to wind down before bed and reflect on your day.

The link to the right takes you to today's prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours.  The website linked in the title has an app that can be downloaded that contains not only the Liturgy of the Hours, but numerous Catholic prayers and the texts of the Mass - a very useful app indeed!