How Can I Pray?

“HAVE NO anxiety at all,” the Letter to the Philippians says, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” Right there Saint Paul identified both the need to pray and also two of its forms, petition and thanksgiving.


From formal to informal to spoken to silent, the Catholic faith offers a wealth of ways to pray. Traditionally prayer has been divided into five types:


Blessing and adoration, like the Gloria at Mass. We acknowledge God’s greatness and power—and mercy—in saving us from evil. Prayers of petition: Prayer for any need we have (especially forgiveness) but also praying that God’s kingdom come and God’s will (not necessarily ours) be done. Intercession: Asking on behalf of another or oneself that God will show mercy and favor. Thanksgiving: Words/thoughts of gratitude for all things or anything—in the spirit of joy that Christ has set creation free. Praise: Giving glory to God, recognizing God is God, testifying we are God’s children.


In the end the ways to pray are endless. But no matter which prayers or prayer forms you make your own, remember, the Trappist monk Father Thomas Merton said, to “ground” your prayer in desire and surrender.