It was Jesus Christ who taught us to pray. He even showed us how to pray. He told us to pray all the time. He also told us that there was nothing for which we cannot pray. Jesus prayed in various ways. He showed us prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of petition, sorrow, payers for pardon and even prayers of complaint.
The Church Fathers told us that, “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God, or the requesting of things from God”. Prayer is talking, listening, asking and even receiving. To be able to pray is to be blessed by God. Many people cannot pray; perhaps because they do not know how. The apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray because prayer is God’s gift to us; it is a way in which we stay in touch with Him. Prayer is our way to be in relationship with God.
There are different forms of prayer. For Ukrainian Catholics liturgical prayer is one of the most important forms of prayer. We are a liturgical church. We pray through the different liturgical services we attend in our lives. However, there are other ways of praying, for example, vocal prayer (out loud). There is mental prayer which is prayed in our minds. There is also meditation whereby one reflects on God’s Word, icons or even spiritual readings. Contemplation or interior prayer is another important form of prayer.
Prayer can be a combination of several forms of prayer at once; one can flow to another. In a sense what is important to remember is that we must pray without over analysing how we are doing it. We must always be in love with God and share that love with Him.
Prayer does not just happen. It needs a bit of self discipline. We have to choose to love God. We need a regular time e.g. before meals, when we get up or go to bed, on Sunday or any other time. We need to decide that we will pray; we need to decide how we are going to pray and then try to stick to it.
At the beginning we especially need to keep our prayer simple; for instance, people pray the Hail Mary or the Our Father. We can later change our prayer, but we must just get started and get into the habit. We need to prepare ourself for prayer. We may even need the time, space and grace from God to actually do it.
T here are so many reasons in life why we think that we cannot pray. However, we must continue with it, no matter what. Regardless of what happens or how we feel, we must pray! Why? Well, it is simple. If we do not pray we will have no contact with God. We really would have a problem calling ourselves Christians.