What is prayer?

Mission Lab

Prayer is the lifting of our minds and hearts to God.

We lift our minds and hearts to God to praise His goodness, to thank Him for His kindness, to acknowledge our sins, to plead for pardon, to ask His aid for our Salvation, and to give glory to Him.

When we pray, both our minds and our hearts are active: our minds occupy themselves with thinking of God and our relationship with Him, and our hearts perform acts of worship.

Prayer is conversation with God. Being aware of God and looking at Him with the eyes of our souls, we reach toward Him to converse with Him, to give Him what we have, and to make our wills one with His. We adore, praise, and thank Him. We ask for His help and His pardon. We trust God in the simplest way, confiding to Him all that we have most at heart—our sorrows and joys, our hopes and fears, and our desires and plans. In return, we receive help, consolation, and advice from Him. We speak quite plainly with God of important matters, often without any feeling or emotion. All that matters is that we speak honestly and earnestly. We pray well when we tell God what is in our hearts. Thus, prayer is communication of spirit with Spirit, of man with God.

Prayer is the simplest and most natural expression of worship. All intelligent creatures are obligated to think about God and to converse with Him—in other words, to pray to Him. In order to pray, you need only understand who God is and who you are, how great God’s fatherly goodness is, and how deep is your own misery. Sacred Scripture and the Liturgy of the Church are invaluable means for understanding who God is and drawing closer to Him through prayer. Faith will teach you all that is necessary. Your prayer, in order to be true prayer, must be from the heart.

You can pray to God at any time and in any place, for you are always in His presence. His love for you is always the same. Even when you are swamped with worldly cares and selfish interests, He is close to you; you will always find Him waiting to listen and ready to answer.

Prayer is the means by which we communicate with God. It is an indescribable grace and honor to have God listen to you and allow you to seek His presence. Nowhere else are you received so sincerely and so lovingly. Try to appreciate the great privilege of being able to talk with God.

Without prayer, you dare not face life. If you are out of touch with God, Our Lady, and the saints, you cannot properly do your work or carry your burdens or hope to reach eternal life.

Prayer is not necessarily a matter of words. It is, fundamentally, an active attitude of the soul. It is an attitude of eager longing for grace. It is a humble and trustful unfolding of your real needs before God, a pleading with Him to satisfy those needs, and a disposition to welcome gifts of God. Above all, it is a readiness to abandon yourself to God’s will in all things.