When someone tells you to “pray about it,” what is your response?
Do you say, “Yes, I am already doing that. Please pray for me, too.” Or do you think, “That’s easy for you to say! How should I pray about it?”
I have responded both ways myself at different times. There are many different ways in which we can “pray about it.”
Our Catholic faith has a deep and rich treasury of prayers. So many, in fact, that it can seem overwhelming sometimes to choose. I can pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary, a Rosary, a novena, or a chaplet. I can read my Bible; I can go to Mass or pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. And this is not a complete list!
What is my purpose?
What do I need or want to pray about? Knowing what I need or want to pray about can help me in deciding what type of prayer I want to use or how I want to pray.
Before I continue, I want to cover something first. This is something I need to keep in mind myself, too, by the way:
More important than praying any specific prayers is that we pray with our whole hearts, trusting in God and His mercy, and knowing that He only wants what is best for our salvation. God will only allow in our lives what will help us to draw closer to Him.
We can pray with full confidence in God, knowing that He is a loving Father who is at our side. We can pray with full confidence in Jesus, knowing how much He loves us. Jesus was ridiculed, beaten almost to death, and nailed to a cross to die because we are so precious to Him. He is worthy of my trust and deserving of my faith in Him. The Holy Spirit, through the sacrament of my baptism, came to be with me. He wants to dwell in my heart to help and sustain me in my faith, making me strong in my love for Him and in my Catholic faith. I need to pray with faith, hope, and trust in God.
If I want to pray for something once, I may say an Our Father or a Hail Mary. For example, if I hear sirens or pass by a car accident while I am driving, I will pray an Our Father for those needing assistance and for those coming to their aid.
If I have a simple dilemma I want to ask God’s direction for, I may just pray my own prayer, telling God what is on my mind and heart and asking for His help. (I do this especially when I feel my patience with others in my family slipping away.)
If I need help figuring something out, I will pray daily about it. I may also pray a chaplet, a Rosary, or a novena.
When my husband Alex and I were discerning whether or not to homschool our children, we prayed for guidance each day until we knew what we should do. Now we pray continually for help to do it well!
A chaplet is a set of prayers, usually focused on devotion to God or a requesting the prayers of a particular saint.
The Divine Mercy Chaplet is devoted to Christ and His Divine Mercy. The words of this chaplet were given to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska by Christ. He instructed her to pray it and to share it with the world. If you are interested in learning more about Jesus’ Divine Mercy and this Chaplet, you can do so here.
A chaplet can be said as a novena, too, when it is prayed for nine days.
The Rosary is a very well-known prayer. When we pray the Rosary we use a set of Rosary beads (our we can use our fingers when we don’t have our Rosary handy) to pray specific prayers while we meditate on the events in the life of Jesus and Mary. To learn more, you can go to the Rosary Center.
I have prayed the Rosary for the repose of the soul of someone I know who has died. I have also prayed it when I have a specific intention where I am seeing guidance and answers on what to do.
Novena refers to nine. A novena is a set of prayers that are said over nine days or nine weeks. To learn more about novenas and look at different novenas, you can go to Pray More Novenas. It has quite an extensive list of novenas!
One of the first novenas I ever prayed was a novena asking St. Gerard, the patron of expectant mothers, to pray for the safety of our unborn baby.
I pray novenas for a specific intention when I want to spend more time in focused prayer over a period of time. For example, I pray a novena if I have a serious intention, like the healing from cancer of someone I know, a job opportunity, or discernment for an important decision.
Read the Bible.
“Well,” you might be thinking, “the Bible has a few hundred pages! Where should I read?” I’ll share an idea that works well for me: read the Mass readings for the day. Every time I read them, something always stands out to me. You can find the daily Mass readings at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
The book of Psalms is a great book to read. King David wrote about joy and despair, suffering, hope, and triumph. Whatever you are dealing with, you can probably find a Psalm related to it.
The Gospels are great to read as well. In them, we learn about Jesus, who He is, His mission on earth, and God’s promises to us as His people.
Before you begin reading the Bible, say a prayer. Ask God to guide and help you to understand what it is He wants for you to know from His word and how you can apply it to your life.
The greatest prayer-the Mass.
The Mass is where Heaven meets earth. At Mass, we are in the presence of Jesus. He is present on earth in flesh once again. He comes to us and we receive Him in the Holy Eucharist. Nothing else can compare to the Mass.
Going to Mass to pray for a specific intention for me has been very powerful.
Besides going to Mass on Sunday, if I have an intention, concern, or prayer I want to take to Jesus during Mass, I will go to a weekday Mass to pray for this intention. As I pray and listen to the readings and the homily, I am attentive to what is God revealing to me that relates to my prayer.
I’ll give you an example. Last summer I was healing from a temporary problem with my health. My healing process was slow going and I was frustrated. Before Mass started I prayed for God’s help and direction. Was I praying the right way? Did I not have enough faith? Should I pray in a different way? Help! I wanted to be focused and steadfast in my prayers and peaceful in my heart, but I was struggling to do these things. The second reading explicitly answered my prayer. Romans 8: 26-27 sums it up:
The Spirit too helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech. He who searches hearts knows what the spirit means, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints as God himself wills.”
I felt that God was speaking directly to me. He was telling me that it was okay that I did not know how to pray about this. He knew what was in my heart and He accepted the groanings of my heart that I did not express in words. It was quite a remarkable experience, to feel God so close to me and answering my prayer so quickly.
Jesus is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. Hosts that have been consecrated at Mass and placed in the tabernacle give us the opportunity to spend time with Jesus in a way that we cannot anywhere else.
We can visit our parish’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel if it has one, or spend time in church in front of the tabernacle. We can go to spend this time with Jesus, to just be with Him, to pray for our intentions, and share what is in our hearts and on our minds. Jesus is a faithful friend who wants us to share our hearts with Him, just as He shares His heart with us in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
A helpful article about spending time in Adoration can be found at Busted Halo.
You can also read the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ information on Adoration.
Pray prayers of thanksgiving.
Saying thank you to God is always an important part of our prayer life.
When I have been praying for a specific intention, saying thank you to Him is very important to me. I want God to hear from me (even though He already knows) that I am greatful to Him and I appreciate Him listening to my prayers and guiding me.
Plan some time for prayer.
When we have the need or desire to pray about something, we can choose a variety of ways to pray.
No matter what prayers we say, we know that God is listening. We can pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary, a Rosary, a novena, or a chaplet; read the Bible, go to Mass, or pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. We can carve out some quiet time just to be with God.
God is pleased when we communicate with Him and seek Him out as we work to discern His will in our lives and offer Him our prayers of petitions as well. He is always here for us.
What type of prayer do you like using in your own life?