Evangelization & Missionary Discipleship

“If the lungs of prayer and of the Word of God do not nourish the breath of spiritual life, we risk suffocating in the midst of a thousand daily cares. Prayer is the breath of the soul and of life.”

— Pope Benedict XVI

Prayer is essential to evangelization, for it is in prayer that we come to know God and ourselves more deeply, and to show gratitude. To live a life in prayer, it’s valuable to engage and pray with your community at Mass, at services, and before gatherings of all kinds, including but not limited to meals, meetings, workshops, etc. Together in prayer, we call upon the Holy Spirit, and in doing so, we are reminded of Jesus Christ, in whose name we gather and express our humility and utter dependence.

Personal prayer is also essential. In an ever-changing world, we need extended time alone with Christ to get to know him and to get comfortable with sharing who he is with others. When we engage in personal prayer, we do just that, deepen our relationship with Christ.

Below we have put together information on prayer to help each of us understand the forms and expressions of prayer, as well as online resources to help in our communal and personal prayer life.

ABOUT PRAYER

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God,” (CCC 2559). With that in mind, there are five primary forms of prayer: blessing and adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise. And there are three expressions of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation and contemplative prayer.

Vocal Prayer

Vocal Prayer puts into words the prayer of our hearts with our voice and with the use of internal words. Vocal prayer occurs when we say the Our Father aloud or to oneself, share a prayer service with a group, pray in unison at the liturgy, say the Rosary alone or with a group, conduct intercessory prayers, and even when we pray alone by giving voice to our interior prayer. Through vocal prayer, we use our senses to animate our internal prayer.

Meditation

"Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire” (CCC 2708). We bring to meditation our own life and in doing so work to find understanding and connection with God.We can use Sacred Scriptures, spiritual texts, artwork, reflection guides, whatever will help us focus as we go deeper into our prayer to sense the movements of our hearts. There are several sources to help facilitate meditation, including Lectio Divina (sacred reading), the Examen, the Gospel of the day and the Rosary.

Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative Prayer is an inner prayer focused on the silence inside of us. There are no tools or words — silent or spoken — needed. The chatter of our mind goes silent, as contemplative prayer does not seek answers but rather seeks union with God, who is always seeking us. This intense form of prayer is about communion and love, and allows the space for God to speak directly to our hearts. This prayer can happen anywhere at any time.

RESOURCES FOR PRAYER

There are a variety of resources for prayer. We are all encouraged to try different types of prayer to find the ones that will help us deepen our relationship with Christ. Below are a few examples.

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is a spiritual reading of Sacred Scriptures that translates literally to divine reading. We read Scripture, usually the Gospel, three times slowly and intentionally.

This is a popular form of meditation, which has ancient roots. In reading Scripture prayerfully, God can speak to our hearts and minds. Here we are helped in our search to understand who God is and what God wants for us. For more on Lectio Divina, visit USSCB and the Carmelite’s.

Daily Examen Prayer

The Daily Examen Prayer is a prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and one that St. Ignatius wanted to share with everyone. Through this prayer, we intentionally reflect on our day and discern where God is moving in our lives. There are five parts to this structured prayer that only takes a few minutes to do. For resources on the Examen, visit Ignatian Spirituality.

Rosary

The Rosary is also a devotion that goes back centuries. When we pray the Rosary, we will typically have Rosary beads in our hand. Using this tool, we move from bead to bead repeating prayers. In so doing, we engage our mind and can meditate on the mysteries of Christ and God’s love for us. Visit the USCCB website to find the prayers, mysteries and directions on how to pray the Rosary.

Praying with the Saints

Praying with the Saints can help us grow deeper in our own prayer life. As a Church, we celebrate the lives of saints who are models and inspirations for how to live Christ-centered lives. Here are two sources to help you pray with the saints each day: Franciscan Media’s Saint of the Day and Catholic Online’s Saint of the Day.

Liturgical - Communal

Liturgical - Communal Prayer resources are available through the Office for Divine Worship. They can help support your parish community with resources and formation opportunities for liturgical prayer.