Emily M. DeArdo


Catholic 101: Let's Talk About Prayer

Catholic 101Emily DeArdoComment

What is prayer? Why should we do it? Do we need to do it? Can't God just read our minds? 

Do I really have to? 

In order: 

  1. Prayer is talking to God. that's it. 
  2. Because if you want to get to know anyone, you have to talk to them. How close are you going to get to God (who MADE YOU) if you never talk to Him? 
  3. Yes. 
  4. Well, yes. But that doesn't mean that we don't ask Him for what we want--Jesus did tell us to, after all. (Mt. 7:7)
  5. YES. 


Let's look at it as a matter of justice: God created us because He loves us. We are created to know, love, and serve God in this world and be happy with him forever in the next. 

We cannot know, love, or serve God if we don't talk to Him. (Which, as we see, is what prayer is.)

There are lots of different kinds of prayer: mental, vocal, etc. You can start where you feel most comfortable. You can use the prayers of the Church (Our Father, Hail Mary, the creeds, etc.), or you can use your own words. You can pray the rosary (an excellent idea, I might add--we'll talk more about this later). 

There are four different "types" of prayer: 

  1. Intercessory: where we pray for other people, asking for what they need ("Dear Lord, please keep Joe safe as he drives 3,000 miles", "Please help Ben pass his test today.") 
  2. Petition: Where we pray for ourselves, asking for what we need. (Or think we need--that's why it's generally a good idea to add "if it be for my good" at the end of prayers for yourself and others, for a lot of things.)
  3. Praise and adoration: Prayer that praises God
  4. Thanksgiving: Prayer that thanks God for what he has given us. 

You can pray anywhere, anytime. 

Most beginners start with vocal prayer--that's the type we're most familiar with. But there's also mental prayer and prayer of contemplation. That's a bit beyond our purposes, here, though. The Mass, also, is a prayer--one big prayer!

Prayer is boring! --that's a common objection. 

Well, OK. It might be. Sure. But lots of things are boring at first. Everything is boring when you're first learning it, really. When I started to learn the clarinet, I played pages of Gs and As. That's really boring. When you start ballet class, it's with a plie, which is deceptively simple. Anything worth doing is worth spending some time being "bored", or working on the fundamentals.

It doesn't really matter how you start. Just start. One of my favorite books for this is Prayer Primer, by Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M, and the follow up, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer. 


Do you have a favorite type of prayer? Or do you struggle with prayer, and are looking for ways to jumpstart your prayer life?