First Week of Lent

What Is Prayer?

Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.
— St. John Damascene

Though it can take many different forms, at its heart, prayer is very simple: it is communication and quality time with God. Just as we cannot have a healthy or lasting relationship with a friend, spouse, or child without speaking to them and spending time with them, so too with our relationship with God.
Prayer can take one or more of several forms:
  1. Blessing is our response to God's gifts. He blesses us and we bless him in return. We also ask him to bless people and things.
  2. Adoration is giving praise and glory to God, who is infinitely greater than we are. Forms of adoration range from joyful song to reverent silence.
  3. Petition means asking God, who is the source of all good gifts, for the things we need and want. This includes forgiveness, consolation, and provision.
  4. Intercession is like petition, but we are asking on behalf of another person, living or dead.
  5. Thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude to God for his gifts, which we do not deserve.

Prayer can be personal:
  • Simply talking to God spontaneously
  • Reciting prayers from scripture and tradition, including the Our Father, the Psalms, the Hail Mary, and others
  • Meditating on the Sacred Scriptures
  • Spending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament (Eucharistic Adoration)

Prayer can also be 
  • The liturgy ("work of the people"), meaning the Mass, the other sacraments, the Divine Office, and other official, public prayers
  • Group recitation of the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and other structured prayers
  • Informal prayer with other people, often concerning their life circumstances or sufferings

There are three main ways that prayer can be expressed:
  1. Vocal Prayer: We use words—mental or spoken—to express ourselves to God.
  2. Meditation: We use our thoughts and emotions to communicate with God. We can meditate on the Scriptures and sacred art, among other things.
  3. Contemplation: This is silent, internal union with God.

Our personal and corporate relationship with God requires prayer! How will you commit to pray this Lent?

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.