Recently, I attended a marriage preparation weekend with my fiancé. We learned a lot about each other and grew in love and appreciation for one another, but something we discovered over the weekend was the difference in how we pray. We are both faith-filled people who serve the Church in a variety of ways, but we had never really thought about the ways we pray. We had especially never considered praying together as a couple…or so I thought. Over the weekend, the couples who shared their stories kept talking about prayer together, and it made me want to have that in our relationship, too. I thought about how my prayer life is full of journaling, talking with other faith-filled gal pals, reflection, song, and giving thanks. I learned that my fiancé’s prayer life was found primarily in the Mass and when he truly needed something. Then I thought about how we go to Mass together each week and make it the high point of the day. Turns out, we have been praying together this whole time—in the Mass! For us, going to Mass is not just something “to do” on Sundays, it’s the beginning of a new week with Christ in the Eucharist, living out His love for others through prayer and witness.
All this thinking about prayer got me asking: how many other ways are there to pray? Prayer is a funny thing. It’s not like math with a specific algorithm to follow in order to get the answer. Prayer is done by adults and children, men and women, healthy and sick, in good times and in bad, all across the world. Prayer is so diverse and can actually be simple to do. Our Catholic faith has provided us with prayers to say to God, songs to sing and listen to, quiet to listen for God’s voice, and a chance to meet him in the Eucharist at Mass. Jesus himself taught his disciples to pray when they asked him, and he left us the Our Father as a result (Matthew 6: 9-13). He wanted us to teach others these words because they cover everything you might need to say. Jesus said, “This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.” Through these few words, we can become closer to God and more dedicated to living the Gospel each day.
Jesus also left us with the Mass. Mass is the place where my fiancé and I first began our relationship, the place we will continue to go on a regular basis together, and where our future children will experience the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. For those who may not be familiar with the structure of the Mass, it is separated into two major parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Within these two parts, there are various prayers and belief statements like the Responsorial Psalm and the Nicene Creed. The “source and summit of Christian life” is the Eucharist, and it comes after we have heard the Word, or the scripture readings (Lumen Gentium, 11). Together, these two parts help us become witnesses of the faith and of God’s love for others.
For some, Mass is not where they experience deep prayer and closeness to Christ like my fiancé does. Some feel close to Christ in nature and through wonder and awe. Some find God in the quiet reflection of their day. Others pray each day with a Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, or other conventional prayers. Personally, I like to switch up my prayer routine and experience different forms of prayer. Prayer is amazing because we have so many ways we could pray and yet, no matter which way we choose in that special moment, we are still opening our hearts to God. In prayer, we are creating a connection with God. This is such a complex concept, talking with our Creator, but so simple to do! Let us close in a simple but powerful prayer: 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.
Question for Reflection: What are a few ways to incorporate communal prayer into your spiritual routine? If you are in a relationship with a significant other, reflect upon what ways you pray together.
Click here for more resources on Prayer and Catechesis.