RCIA Session Prayer-14

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Opening Prayer


Web resources



What prayer is not

  • the Lords Prayer
  • Discussion about why this not prayer and how it relates to the way we pray.
  • What we think prayer is

What prayer is

  • Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God. CCC 2559
  • "the breath of the Holy Spirit - Blessed John Paul II
  • "... 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" - Therese of Lisieux:
  • True prayer is nothing but love. Augustine:
  • the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself. John Vianney:
  • the raising of one’s mind and heart to God - Damascene
  • being alone in a dark room with the beloved Newman:
  • "Our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in you." - St. Augustine
  • There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus - Blaise Paschal
  • a conversation with one whom you know loves you." - St. Teresa of Avila
  • it is a call to walk with God as Noah did. Vaghi
  • In this life we can come into God through prayer, traditionally defined as the "lifting of the mind and heart to God". Whenever we think of or speak with God, we are praying.
  • Everyone needs half an hour of prayer each day, except when we are busy, then we need an hour. Francis de Sales:
  • a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God CCC-2558

What do these terms mean?

  • Personal – persona, between persons, between you and the Holy Spirit. The person is the joining of body and soul… of mind and flesh… so don’t check your intellect at the door. Prayer is not where passion takes over (contrary to what the movies say).
  • Prayer is also, therefore, fundamentally connected with the human will. We don’t pray just when we “feel” like it. It is a duty, it is work.
  • Vital – vita, life giving e.g. St. Ignatius Loyola – praying in recovery at the castle founding of Society of the Jesus aka the Jesuits
  • Prayer is always in Christ (en kristo)- Since we are entirely dependent on God, we must acknowledge and express this sovereignty of the Creator, as the devout people of every age have done by means of prayer. Prayer directed to God must be linked with Christ, the Lord of all, the one Mediator through whom alone we have access to God. He unites to himself the whole human community in such a way that there is an intimate bond between the prayer of Christ and the prayer of all humanity. In Christ and in Christ alone human worship of God receives redemptive value and attains its goal. (GILOH - 6)
  • The excellence of Christian prayer lies in its sharing in the reverent love of the only-begotten Son for the Father and in the prayer that the Son put into words in his earthly life and that still continues without ceasing in the name of the whole human race and for its salvation through the universal Church and all its members. (GILOH – 7)
  • In other words – only Christ prays perfectly, so pray in union with him
  • Listen to Christ in Jn. 17. Can you find a “personal and vital relationship” at work here?
  • Continuing to follow the model of the passion and death, we see that

prayer is always part of our response to God. …The passion and death were Christ’s ultimate response to the love of the Father (again, exemplified in Jn. 17)

  • Christ’s prayer also shows the marks of prayer
    • Humility
      • Lk 18:9-14 prayer of the Pharisee vs. Tax Collector
    • Watchfulness (eschatological awareness)
      • Mk 13:33 - Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come
      • Lk 21:36 - Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man
    • Persevering confidence in God’s goodness
      • Lk 18:1-8 – the widow who persistently made her case to the judge
      • Jn 16:23 – whatever you ask of the Father in my name he will give you.
    • Conforms to the nature of God
      • Mt 6:5-8 – pray with your Father in the room of your heart
      • Jn 4:23 – the time is coming when all will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth
  • Prayer is always, in some sense, communal
    • It is the Body of Christ that prays
    • Prayer speaks to the longing of all human hearts

  • Prayer involves both speaking and listening.
  • How God Speaks
    • All of God's creation
    • Sacred Scripture
    • Through other people. Their words and actions can convey a divine message
    • Through our experiences, even our dreams
    • Most intimately, God speaks to us through our thoughts...

Five Forms of Prayer

  1. Blessing/Adoration
    • A blessing is a sacramental that asks Gods favor and grace upon a person or object. A blessing is usually imparted by an ordained minister but also can be given by a lay person. The words of a blessing may be accompanied by outstretched hands. the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of water.
    • Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his creator. It exalts the Lord who made us. (CCC 2628)
    • Catholics adore God alone. This adoration of the divine is called latria. We do not adore the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints who, though holy, still are merely human beings. The honor or veneration we give to the saints is called dulia; the honor we give too Mary, the Mother of God, is called hyperdulia
  2. Petition - prayer asking God for something such as healing, a safe journey, or forgiveness. Jesus encouraged this kind of prayer.
  3. Intercession - we ask for something on behalf of another person. Jesus is our intercessor because he constantly prays to the Father for us.
  4. Thanksgiving - a main purpose of prayer. We express our gratitude to God for all his loving acts of creation and redemption.
  5. Praise - Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS (CCC 2639).

Varieties of Prayer

These are not mutually exclusive categories but rather different "varieties" of prayer.

  • Vocal
  • Personal
  • Traditional formulas such as the Our Father
  • Prayers composed by saints and other people
  • Our original compositions
  • Spontaneous
  • Singing
  • Meditation, that is, thinking about God or the things of God.
  • Contemplation, the highest form of prayer, a wordless prayer in which we simply rest quietly in God's presence, basking in God's love. Intuition more than reasoning is involved.

Jesus, Teacher of Prayer

  • He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples. Luke 11:1f The Lords Prayer
  • Our Father: We dare to address God as Jesus did, familiarly, as OUR Father. Because the Father, Son, and Holy spirit are, one, we are addressing the whole Trinity. The Our signifies our communion with all other believers.
  • Who art in heaven: Where God is, there is Justice and perfect happiness. Heaven is our homeland and already exists in the hearts of the just.
  • Hallowed be thy name. "Hallowed" means holy or "blessed". A person's name stands for the person himself or herself. In this statement we glorify God and ask that everyone live in a way that hallows God.
  • Thy kingdom come: God's kingdom or reign is one of peace, justice, and love. We pray that it will spread throughout the world. We pray for the final coming of Christ and the fullness of the kingdom.
  • Thy will be done: We pray that people will follow God's all-wise plan.
  • On earth as it is in heaven: in heaven angels and saints constantly do what is pleasing to God.
  • Give us this day our daily Bread: Bread stands for what we need to live. We depend on the good God for all of our necessities. This bread can also signify the Eucharist.
  • And forgive us our trespasses: We ask God to forgive our sins and failings.
  • As we forgive those who trespass against us: A dangerous petition because we are asking God to forgive us to the extent that we forgive others.
  • And lead us not, into temptation: We ask God to help us discern what is wrong and to keep us safe from whatever may lead us to sin.
  • But deliver us from evil: We petition God to protect us from evil, or the Evil One.

Ok, I want to pray, now what?

  • Remember that our prayer life is a journey. We must constantly refine and grow in our prayer.
  • Overcoming the challenges to prayer
    • I don't know how to pray.
    • Perhaps the most basic reason why many find it hard to believe in the efficacy of prayer is that often prayers don't seem to be answered. In such a case, it may be that we have not prayed very well. If we routinely mouth a formula, it is not prayer at all. If we pray without trust in God, our prayer will not be heard; for trust is the essence of prayer. But even if our prayer is all that it should be, the answer to it may not be evident. God always answers sincere prayer but not always in the way that we anticipate. He answers according to his own wisdom. Those who pray in humility and faith ofter receive very literal and obvious answers.
    • A more subtle reason why some do not believe in the power of prayer is the modern reluctance to believe that God intervenes to alter the course of Nature
    • The Lord of nature can arrange that nature itself, by its own workings, provides what we request.
  • Select a time(s) to dedicate to prayer. e.g. first thing in the morning, last thing in the evening or both
  • Select a place to pray e.g in a secluded room of my house or at an available chapel. It should be a place that is quiet and without distractions e.g. not on the metrorail on the way to work.
  • Select an approach or multiple approaches e.g. Liturgy of the Hours, a daily prayer book or web site.
  • “The Prayer Process From: Matthew Kelly. “The Four Signs of A Dynamic Catholic.”
    1. Gratitude: Begin by thanking God in a personal dialogue for whatever you are most grateful for today.
    2. Awareness: Revisit the times in the past twenty-four hours when you were and were not the-best-version-of-yourself. Talk to God about these situations and what you learned from them.
    3. Significant Moments: Identify something you experienced today and explore what God might be trying to say to you through that event (or person).
    4. Peace: Ask God to forgive you for any wrong you have committed (against yourself, another person, or him) and to fill you with a deep and abiding peace.
    5. Freedom: Speak with God about how he is inviting you to change your life, so that you can experience the freedom to be the-best-version-of-yourself.
    6. Others: Lift up to God anyone you feel called to pray for today, asking God to bless and guide them.
    7. Finish by praying the Our Father.”
  • Constantly reevaluate your prayer life and commitment to grow.

Liturgical Prayer

  • Mass
  • Liturgy of the Hours - Divine Office

Scriptural Prayer

  • Lectio Divina

Catholic Devotions

  • Devotions to Mary and the Saints
  • The Rosary The Holy Rosary.org
  • Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Stations of the Cross
  • Eucharistic devotions, Adoration
  • Examin

Closing Prayer

Pray the Divine Mercy Chapletin the Chapel


  • adoration: our response of praise to God as we stand in awe of his great power, majesty, and goodness. Source The Catholic Way to Pray
  • aspiration: a one-line prayer. Also called ejaculation.
  • Benediction: a Eucharistic devotion in which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance and we are blessed with it.
  • blessing: 1) a prayer calling on God to bestow gifts on a person or to ask God to mark a certain object or place, such as a house, with favor and divine protection; 2) can also set apart a place or object as a means of grace, for example rosaries are blessed; 3) can mean the act of God bestowing grace and favors, as when we say that God blesses us; 4) We can bless God, which means to praise God. canticle: a sung prayer.
  • centering prayer: a silent prayer that focuses on God dwelling in the center of us. When attention wanders away from God, we use a word or phrase to come back to God. In essence, centering prayer is resting in God, enjoying God's presence.
  • chaplet: a prayer form that uses beads, such as the rosary.
  • communal prayer: prayer that is prayed together.
  • contemplation: the highest form of prayer, a prayer without words. We are totally rapt in God's presence.
  • contrition: We express sorrow for sin, ask forgiveness, and intend to avoid sin in the future.
  • Divine Office: see Prayer of Christians.
  • Eucharistic devotions: special prayers in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, such as visits to the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.
  • examination of conscience: a review of our life to notice where we have cooperated with God's grace and where we haven't. It is part of preparation for the sacrament of Reconciliation and recommended to be made each night.
  • exposition: making the sacred host visible for adoration by setting it in a monstrance.
  • grace before/after meals: In grace before meals we ask God to bless us and the food we are about to eat. In grace after meals we thank God for our food.
  • holy hour: an hour spent in prayer usually before the Blessed Sacrament.
  • indulgence: the canceling of the debt of satisfaction owed for sin by certain prayers or practices. It can be partial or plenary (complete).
  • intention: in prayer, it is some cause for which we offer intercessory prayer, such as world peace.
  • intercessory prayer: we ask for something on behalf of another person. Jesus is our intercessor because he constantly prays to the Father for us.
  • Jesus prayer: "Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." It is repeated over and over and can be synchronized with breathing.
  • journaling: writing one's thoughts and prayers, sometimes daily. This practice makes us more reflective and can produce a richer prayer life.
  • labyrinth: a circular path that leads to the center of a circle. As we walk the labyrinth, we pray on the way to the center, which stands for God, and on the way out into the world again.
  • lectio divina: sacred reading, a method of prayer that leads to union with God in contemplation. The four steps are:
    1. read a passage and stop when a word or phrase catches your attention,
    2. reflect on your "word,"
    3. respond to God in prayer, and
    4. rest in the presence of God.
  • litany: a long prayer invoking God, Mary or a saint under many titles.
  • liturgy: the public worship of the Church: the Eucharist, the sacraments, and the Divine Office.
  • Liturgy of the Hours: see Prayer of Christians.
  • mantra: a prayer word or phrase that is repeated continually.
  • May crowning: a Marian devotion in which a statue of Mary is crowned. This usually occurs in May because it is her month.
  • meditation: mental prayer in which we ponder God and the mysteries of our faith.
  • mental prayer: prayer that occurs silently in our minds as opposed to vocal prayer, which is said out loud.
  • novena: praying a prayer for nine consecutive days or nine hours. The practice is derived from the nine days that Mary and the disciples prayed waiting for the Holy Spirit to come at Pentecost.
  • octave: eight days of prayer.
  • petition: prayer asking God for something such as healing, a safe journey, or forgiveness. Jesus encouraged this kind of prayer.
  • pilgrimage: a journey to a holy place, such as the Holy Land or a shrine, for religious purposes.
  • prayer service: a celebration with a religious theme that incorporates Scripture, prayers, quiet time for reflection, and hymns.
  • procession: walking in honor of God usually within a liturgical or devotional service. For example, there are processions within the Mass, and on Good Friday people may process outside with a cross or statue of Christ.
  • Prayer of Christians: also called the Liturgy of the Hours and the Divine Office, the official daily prayer of the Church in which the entire day is sanctified. Priests and some religious are obliged to pray it, and all Christians are invited to pray it. There are seven times or hours when these prayers are prayed.
  • psalms: the 150 prayer-songs in the Bible's Book of Psalms. They are the Jewish prayer book, and have been adopted by Christians. The psalms, which are Hebrew poetry, express the whole gamut of stances we have toward God: praise, lament, contrition, and thanksgiving.
  • retreat: a period of time when we withdraw from everyday life and activities to focus on God and our relationship with God. A retreat can be a half day or as long as thirty days. Usually it has various prayer activities, including time for quiet prayer, talks by a retreat director, the celebration of the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Penance.
  • rosary: a Marian prayer in which we meditate on mysteries in the life of Christ while praying Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes on a circle of beads. Mary asked us to pray the rosary in her appearances at Lourdes and Fatima.
  • sacramental: a blessing or an object that has been blessed and whose use brings graces through the merits of Jesus and the prayers of the Church.
  • scapular: an indulgenced sacramental, two small pieces of cloth connected by strings that are worn around the neck. It shows devotion, usually to Our Lady, and is worn continually. After a person has been invested in a cloth scapular by a priest, a scapular medal may be substituted for it.
  • Stations of the Cross: Way of the Cross a devotion in which we remember Jesus' passion as we walk from station to station and pray. Each of the fourteen stations has a cross and art depicting one event of the passion.
  • spontaneous prayer: informal prayer, vocal prayer that is not written down, prayed by rote using a formula prayer, or rehearsed.
  • Taize prayer: the Taize method of praying originated with an ecumenical community of monks in Taize, France. It mainly consists of chanting short prayers over and over alternating with periods of quiet prayer.
  • thanksgiving: a main purpose of prayer. We express our gratitude to God for all his loving acts of creation and redemption.
  • triduum: three days of prayer, such as the Holy Week Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday.
  • veneration of a relic: relics are parts of a saint's body, something a saint has used, or material that has been touched to a saint. These are displayed in a case called a reliquary and people may venerate them in a ritual of prayer.
  • Viaticum: the Communion that a dying person receives
  • vigil light: votive candle, a candle that is lit for an intention. A prayer is said and a donation is made. The flame represents the prayer rising to heaven.
  • vocal prayer: prayer prayed aloud.
  • XX

Homework for next session

Make up a personal plan for the next step in your prayer journey. e.g. I will get a subscription to Magnificat or I will go to Sacred Spaceeach morning before breakfast. Then, make a personal commitment to take that first step