Prayer: A Gift to make us Holy

Prayer is a very practical subject, you can only really become proficient through doing it. Included below are a few notes on the main basic forms of prayer, in the hope that you may be able to enrich your prayer time, especially if you have become focused just on one aspect of prayer.

Basic Forms of Prayer

  • Prayer of Blessing - because God blesses us with his gifts, we in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing. As our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father - we bless him for having blessed us; our prayer implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father - he blesses us.

  • Prayer of Petition - in petition we express our awareness of our relationship with God. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition, asking for forgiveness, like the tax collector: "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" is already a turning back to him.

    Then, having repented, Christian petition is centred on the desire and search for the kingdom to come: we pray for the coming of the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and co-operate with its coming.

  • Prayer of Intercession - in intercession we pray asking on behalf of another. We look not only to our own interests, but also to the interest of others, and imitating Christ, we even pray for those who would do us harm. The early Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely. The intercession of Christians recognises no boundaries: we pray for all, from the highest to lowest; for our friends and for those who set themselves up as our enemies and persecutors.

  • Prayer of Thanksgiving - as in the prayer of petition, every joy and suffering, event and need, can become an offering of thanksgiving which, sharing in that of Christ, should fill one's whole life. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in our thanks: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"; "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."

  • Prayer of Praise - Praise is the form of prayer which recognises 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. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure in heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, testifying to the only Son in whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the "one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist".
(Paraphrased from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, chapter 4, paragraphs. 2626-2649)