Prayer is at the very heart of the Christian life because God has planted it within us.

Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a Christian but from time to time, you have found yourself praying? Have you ever prayed to God in a time of crisis? Have you ever found yourself rejoicing at the wonder of life and felt your spirits raise? These are all signs of the prayer.

Prayer is the most amazing gift that God has given humanity. It is our ability to communicate with Him and for Him to communicate with us. Scripture, reason and experience shows us that we aren’t alone and faith, in the believer, confirms that.

So how do we pray? How should we pray?

Well there is no one answer to how one should pray. St John of Damascus writing in late antiquity says:

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God. Or the requesting of good things from God.”

The church actually teaches us that prayer is first and foremost God’s gift to us but it is also a wonderful example of the co-operation of God and humanity. God inspires us to pray and we respond by saying “yes, God” allowing ourselves to open up before God and letting our hearts cry out to him.

There is literally nothing you cannot share with God. He knows all the secrets of our hearts. The saints often got angry with God, therefore you must not try and hide anything from him. When you pray, talk to him and ask him for help and support. You might want to use your imagination, use a formal written prayer, or just talk to him. The most important thing about prayer is not how you pray but that you pray. Little and often is best.

Jesus taught his disciples how to pray like this:

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.

The Lord’s Prayer as it is known is a wonderful prayer to learn by heart for it also teaches us how to pray in every circumstance. Jesus permits us to call God “Our Father” which shows us that God is close to us. He is not distant – he is a loving Father to us, his adopted sons and daughters.

Prayer is diverse and includes:

The Mass – public offering of the Liturgy usually in Church. This is the greatest prayer we can offer to God. It is the offering of bread and wine to God as a sacrifice. Though the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

The Rosary – can be said as an individual or communally. At St Matthew’s, we have two rosary groups if you are interested in finding out more. One meets virtually on Zoom (Wednesday 9pm) and the other in church on Fridays 12 noon.

On Thursday mornings, the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the tabernacle to the altar so that people are able to pray before Jesus.

The Divine Office (We recommend UNIVERSALIS) is of obligation for priests, monks and nuns but many lay people also pray these prayer. This type of prayer consists of reading parts of the Bible at certain hours of the day to make the day holy. Again, these can be said alone or with others.

Christian Meditation (We recommend the JOHN MAIN METHOD) is usually a solitary experience but can be done in a group. It is usually silent and allows the individual to listen to what God is saying to them.

Privately – we can speak to God at any time and in any place.

The five ways of prayer are:

Some basic Christian prayers to learn by heart include:

Sign of the Cross (good to say on first waking up and on falling asleep)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The 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 sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; 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.

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.

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.

Doxology
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.