Ways to Pray

There are many ways to pray. What you say and what you do are not as important as just being there with God when you pray.

Some people find ACTS a helpful way to pray. The letters speak of four aspects of a time of prayer:

  • A – for Adoration – beginning with the worship of God
  • C – for Contrition – acknowledges that we are sinners and need to confess our turning away from God
  • T – for Thanksgiving – to express our gratitude for all the amazing things in our lives
  • S – for Supplication – or intercession for all those that we love and care for in the world.

For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. St Therese of Lisieux.

Sometimes we may find it hard to pray – to lift our hearts and minds in worship of the God who created the universe and redeemed the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus. If you are looking for some words to help you in the midst of your busy life, let the words of Scripture and the prayers of the saints guide you.

From Catechism of the Catholic Church 2644 – 2649

The Holy Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus said also instructs her in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise. Because God blesses the human heart it can in return bless him who is the source of every blessing. Forgiveness, the quest for the Kingdom and every true need are objects of the prayer of petition.

Prayer of intercession consists in asking on behalf of another. It knows no boundaries and extends to one’s enemies. Every joy and suffering, every event and need can become the matter for thanksgiving which, sharing in that of Christ, should fill one’s whole life: “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:18).

Prayer of praise is entirely disinterested and rises to God, lauds him, and gives him glory for his own sake, quite beyond what he has done, but simply because he is.

The Church invites the faithful to regular prayer: daily prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Eucharist and the feasts of the liturgical year. The Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation and contemplative prayer. They have in common the recollection of the heart.

Vocal prayer, founded on the union of body and soul in human nature, associates the body with the interior prayer of the heart, following Christ’s example of praying to his Father and teaching the Our Father to his disciples. Meditation is a prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion and desire. Its goal is to make our own in faith the subject considered, by confronting it with the reality of our own life.

Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery.

The Psalms

The Psalms constitute the masterwork of prayer in the Old Testament. They present two inseparable qualities: the personal, and the communal. They extend to all dimensions of history, recalling God’s promises already fulfilled and looking for the coming of the Messiah. Prayed and fulfilled in Christ, the Psalms are an essential and permanent element of the prayer of the Church. They are suitable for men [and women] of every condition and time.

from the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2596-2597


Common Prayers

Sign of the Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Prayers to Our Lady

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our light, our sweetness, and our hope.
To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, we turn to you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother.
To you do we come, before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, do not despise our petitions,
but hear and answer us. Amen.

The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. (Hail Mary…)

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your word. (Hail Mary …)

And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us. (Hail Mary …)

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: Pour forth, we ask you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts; that, we to whom the incarnation of Christ, your Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his resurrection, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

is said in place of the Angelus during Eastertide.

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.

Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we ask you, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Rosary

The fundamental prayers listed above (The Sign of the Cross, Apostles Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Hail Holy Queen) are also part of the Catholic rosary, a devotion dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God. (CCC 971) The rosary consists of twenty decades. Each decade focuses upon a particular mystery in the life of Christ and his Blessed Mother. It is customary to say five decades at a time, while meditating upon one set of mysteries.

  • Joyful Mysteries
    The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary.
    Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth.
    Jesus is born.
    Jesus is brought to the Temple.
    Young Jesus teaches in the Temple.
  • Sorrowful Mysteries
    Jesus prays in the garden.
    Jesus is beaten (scourged).
    Jesus is crowned with thorns.
    Jesus carries the cross.
    Jesus is crucified.
  • Glorious Mysteries
    Jesus rises from the dead.
    Jesus rises (ascends) into heaven.
    The apostles receive the Holy Spirit.
    Mary is taken up (assumed) into heaven.
    Mary is crowned queen of heaven.
  • Mysteries of Light
    Jesus is baptised.
    Jesus works his first miracle (Wedding at Cana).
    Jesus preaches (Sermon on the Mount).
    Jesus is transfigured (his glory is seen).
    Jesus institutes the Eucharist.
Praying with Scripture - SOAP

The Church provides a section of scripture to read during Mass for every day of the year. Reflecting upon this scripture is a great way to enter into prayer. One way of praying with scripture is using the SOAP method:

  • S – for reading the Scripture. Begin with a moment of silence to place yourself in the presence of the Lord. The first time reading the passage through, just focus on the basic meaning of the text. Then re-read it to see if there are any words or ideas that stand out for you today. Sit with the sentence or words for a while.
  • O – Observe what stands out for you from the passage.
  • A – Apply what you understand of the passage for your own life today.
  • P – conclude with a time of Prayer – thanking the Lord for all that he is, and especially praying for insight into how to apply what the scripture may have taught you today.