How do we come to know and love God? The first commandment is:
“Love the Lord thy God with your whole heart, mind, and soul.”
How is it possible to love someone we don’t know? When we truly love someone we don’t fear them, we want to spend time with them; we enjoy their company.
Prayer is the way we come to know God. It is not enough to pray just on Sunday. If we love God, we will pray without ceasing…always, … in our thoughts and in our actions.
Knowing the different forms of prayer can help us explore getting to know God better. When Jesus was asked by his disciples how to pray he responded by giving us the well known “Lord’s Prayer”.
The following are different types of prayer:
1. Prayer of petition: When we ask for specific things we are making a petition. Hopefully we also say “Thy will be done.” Our will is not always God’s will. This is why God’s answer is sometimes “No, I have a better solution.”
2. Prayer of intercession: When we pray for the welfare of someone else, this is the prayer of intercession. When the saints pray for us they are interceding for us.
3. Prayer of Glory, Praise and Thanksgiving. Saying thank you to God is an important part of our spiritual journey. Remember the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers? Only one returned and thanked Jesus. Let me be grateful for all the gifts God gives me.
4. Prayer of Adoration: This prayer is acknowledging God as our creator; all good and all powerful.
5. Prayer of Quiet: This prayer is the prayer of LISTENING to God. We sit quietly in the presence of God, quiet our mind, and ask God to lead us. We find God in the silence. Actually, God finds us.
6. Scripture: Reading Holy Scripture is a form of prayer. We read and meditate on both the Old and the New Testament.
7. Music: Music is a powerful way to pray. “When we sing we pray twice.” St. Augustine. Music is prayer which comes from the heart. Some people find it easier to connect with God with this type of prayer.
8. Meditation: Reflection on nature, art, humanity and scripture are all forms of meditation. Take the time to reflect on what is happening in your life. Ask God to lead you in your meditative prayer.
9. The Catholic Mass: It incorporates all of these types of prayer. During the Mass we pray for others, give glory and thanks, ask for mercy and guidance, listen to scripture, adore Christ in the Eucharist, and pray through silence and singing.
10. Praying can be either spontaneous or memorized. When we are in a crisis it is sometimes hard to know what to say to God. This is when memorized prayer is very powerful. The Catholic Church has many formal prayers for every occasion and need. They guide us when we are at a loss for words. Spontaneous prayer is also a very meaningful way to pray to God.
When Jesus is our closest friend, we can tell him anything. Praying on a regular basis in all these different ways helps us to come closer to God. Letting ourselves be led by God in prayer is how we put into action the first commandment.
Loving God means spending time with him. Each of us has a different prayer style. If we are too busy to pray, we are too busy for God. God does not force himself on anyone. If you are having difficulty praying start by meditating on the Our Father, the prayer Jesus himself gave us. Ponder each word in the prayer. Your relationship with God will begin to grow.
Their is a different prayer style for each person. Each of the saints also prays in a way that is special to that saint If you are searching for the type of prayer that works for you a wonderful book to read is Six Ways to Pray from Six Great Saints by Gloria Hutchinson.
This book introduces you to six different saints: St. Francis of Assisi (Franciscan), St. Clare ( Poor Clares), St. Teresa of Lisieux (Carmelite), St. Therese of Avila (Carmelite), St. John of the Cross (Carmelite ) and St. Ignatius of Loyola (Jesuit). You will learn not only their story but also their prayer style. Each chapter contains exercises to help you discover what type of prayer works best for you. When I read this book, I learned about the “Prayer of Detachment” taught by St. John of the Cross. The exercises helped me to practice and meditate in a way I had never tried before. I encourage everyone to read it and discover their own prayer type.