Prayer is nothing less than being in the presence of the Almighty God, who created the sun, the moon and the stars, the past, the present and future. It is a conversation with the One who created us, loves us, and invites us to eternal life. It is an awesome and incredible thing to think about the fact that the Almighty God, enthroned above all praises, before whom the angels bow down in worship, is truly present to us, really does listen to us, and speaks to us in the depths of our hearts. When we are in prayer, we open our hearts to Him and He gives us a sense of His presence, knowledge of the greater realm, and communion even now with the angels and saints.
People often ask how they can enter more deeply into prayer. The fourth part of the Catechism recommends several types of prayers. First, there are the liturgies of the Church, such as the Mass, all of the sacraments, Eucharistic Adoration, and the Liturgy of the Hours (more on that next week.) Liturgies are prayers of the whole Church together, throughout the world and even of heaven itself.
There are also devotions, such as the rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, stations of the Cross and novenas with the saints, that unite the faithful throughout time and space. These set words of such devotions are not mere repetition, but are ways of entering into the realms of divine wisdom through well founded paths, such as the mysteries of the rosary, the awesomeness of Divine Mercy, the Cross of Jesus, and the communion of saints.
There is also the prayerful reading of Scriptures, in which God speaks to us as His children, giving us the light of heaven on earth. We can also use other spiritual readings to help us meditate on the truths of our faith. In addition, there is more informal prayer, which can include requests of God (as in intercessions and petitions), thanksgiving, contrition for sins, praise of God for His majesty and the things He has done, or simple adoration in the presence of God.
Next week’s article will further comment on four of these types of prayer.