For Christians and especially new Christians it is completely normal and common to wonder if we are praying correctly and if we are not doing something stupid. Prayer is something vital in Christianity but which nonetheless remains very complex in both substance and form. In this article we will therefore see the bases of Christian prayer but also the specificities which distinguish the different prayers from each other, which we hope will help you to understand with more ease and less fear this act of devotion to Our Lord. Lord who brings us so close to him.
To begin with, and for the sake of understanding, we will distinguish formal prayers from personal prayers.
- Formal prayers are the prayers that the Christian must know by heart if possible which are recited during the Holy Mass and which mark the faith of the Christian, these prayers are for example the well-known Our Father, the two attestations of Faith that of the symbol of Nicea-Constantinople and that of the apostles, the I confess to God, or the Hail Mary. These prayers are of capital importance because they have survived the ages and endure throughout the life of the Church, this is particularly the case with the prayer of the Our Father which was directly given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. as is explained in Matthew (6:9-13) and Luke (11:2-4) .
- Personal prayers, these prayers are much less structured than formal prayers and do not have a specific form. They are simply a dialogue with God, a moment of communication of total freedom where the Christian entrusts to God what he he has on his heart and in his mind. These prayers are nonetheless just as important as formal prayers because a life without them would seem very barren for a Christian who would be deprived of a true dialogue of love with God. These prayers are surely the most difficult to approach as a Christian novice because this total freedom can be seen as vague and complicated to understand for the inexperienced person. However, and thank God there are some techniques and tips to be able to be guided during these prayers and not do anything, we will talk to you about them later.
I - Formal Prayers
As said previously, formal prayers are of capital importance in the life of a Christian because they allow daily affirmation of the faith which is his and which is so important to him. These prayers should be learned by heart if possible for a Christian as their importance is so strong but do not be afraid, if you do not know them you will end up learning them naturally by reciting them. Here are the most important formal prayers for a Christian:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name,
let your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive those who trespass against us.
And do not let us enter into temptation, but deliver us from Evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory
For centuries and centuries
I salute you marie
Hail Mary, full of grace;
The Lord is with you.
You are blessed among all women
And Jesus, the fruit of your womb, is blessed.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us poor sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.
I believe in God ( Apostles ' Creed )
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried, descended into hell;
The third day rose from the dead,
Has ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from where he will judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, in the holy Catholic Church, in the communion of saints, in the remission of sins, in the resurrection of the flesh, in eternal life.
I Believe in God (Nicene Creed)
I believe in one God, the Almighty Father, creator of heaven and earth, of the visible and invisible universe,
I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, born of the Father before all ages: He is God, born of God, light, born of light, true God, born of the true God Begotten not created , consubstantial with the Father; and through him all things were done.
For us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven; By the Holy Spirit, he took flesh from the Virgin Mary, and became man.
Crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, He suffered his passion and was placed in the tomb. He rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven;
he is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his reign will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, who is Lord and gives life; it proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, he receives the same adoration and the same glory; he spoke through the prophets.
I believe in the Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic. I recognize only one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
I Confess to God
I confess to Almighty God,
I admit before my brothers that I have sinned
In thought, in word, by action and by omission;
Yes, I really sinned.
Therefore I implore the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the saints, and you also, my brothers,
To pray for me to the Lord our God .
These prayers are of capital importance in the life of the Church and its presence during the vast majority if not all of the Masses, other formal prayers are also important but for a neo-Christian or a non-seasoned practitioner it is advisable to focus on these prayers to begin with.
II- Personal prayers
Personal prayers are much less structured than formal prayers; what personal prayer is about is conversing freely with God. However, there are still some points to address in a personal prayer in order to fulfill all your duties as a Christian. These points are 5 in number and allow you to structure your prayer so that it does not go in all directions. Here they are. in the example of the “hand” prayer which is recommended to be done in the evening:
- Thank you : The first point to address during your prayer is to thank God, even on bad days because there are always, even in moments of sadness, little things that have brightened our day and brought us closer to God. You can thank God for what he has done for you but also for what he has done for others and those you love.
- Forgiveness : The second point to address is that of forgiveness, here it is a question of asking God for forgiveness for our sins committed today, this forgiveness must be sincere it must come from the heart, but be certain of one thing, if you ask our Lord for forgiveness, he will forgive you and he will forgive you completely with pure and sincere love.
- Please : The third point relates to the request that we make to the Lord what we would like him to give us, whether material or spiritual, professional success as well as a gift of wisdom. However one thing is essential for this request to be accepted by God, this thing must be good and bring you closer to him, be sure that if you ask God for his grace and great wisdom this will be granted to you as we affirm. Matthew 7:7 “ Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”
- I offer you : The fourth point relates to the offering made to God today, you sometimes have to rack your brains to know what can offer to God but rest assured, there is always a good deed that we have carried out today that we can offer to God, however small it may be, a forgiveness, a thank you, a gesture of kindness, a gift, a smile. Everything good pleases God so offer it to Him!
- I love you : I love you, surely one of the most beautiful words that man has ever been able to say, saying I love you to God with a sincere heart and one of the most beautiful things to do during a prayer because God loves us, we are sure of it, so let us return his love by telling him that we love him in words during a prayer but also in deeds during his daily life as a Christian.
This hand prayer is very well explained by Brother Paul-Adrien in this superb YouTube video clickable right here which we strongly recommend!
III- The importance of prayer
As said previously, prayer is essential for a Christian; it must occupy a central place in his life. Thus, it is first of all advisable to pray when we feel the need and gradually this will become a habit and a real pleasure because during prayer we experience a real feeling of inner peace, we feel close to the love of God and far from the distractions of the world.
Prayer is not necessarily to be done alone, group prayers also occupy a strong importance in the life of a Christian, particularly during the Holy Mass where the assembled assembly will unite its prayer to the priest in order to give it as an offering to God which is something very beautiful and pure.
But obviously these obligations, whatever possible to be carried out for a Finally, as for when to pray, there is obviously some advice in particular from men of the Church and monks and nuns who pray at fixed times such as matins at midnight, lauds at dawn, vespers in the evening and fellowship before going to bed. These prayers for an average Christian are not obligatory, you are free to pray whenever you want during your day even if we strongly advise you to pray at all times and at all times as indicated in Luke 21;36 : “Watch therefore and pray at all times, that you may have strength to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to appear standing before the Son of Man.” However, do not forget to say a prayer, even a very quick and simple one, when you get up and before going to bed to thank the Lord for waking you up today and to thank him for this day and affirming to him that you are entrusting him with your sleep.
IV- The intercession of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints
Crazy thing for Protestants when, although completely necessary, Catholics and Orthodox regularly ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. Protestants see it as an occultist rite and heresy because thinking that we pray to people other than God, the verse that they use to justify their accusation is this one Deuteronomy 18:11 ""No one will find among you (...) person who uses magic, questions specters and spirits, or consults the dead". Yet in the intercession of the saints and of the Blessed Virgin Mary our mother of all there is no form of occultism or any kind of black magic prohibited by Deuteronomy. Catholics do not pray to the dead, in fact rightful Catholics have the infinite certainty that the saints and the Blessed Virgin are not dead but alive with our Lord as Mark states 22,31-32: Where is the abode of the dead? In Heaven? Jesus said in the Scriptures: "And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God: I, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
Physical Death absolutely does not mean the death of the soul, this is very easily visible in the biblical episode of the transfiguration where our Lord Jesus Christ made Elijah and Moses appear to the disciples as stated in Matthew 17; 1-3 " Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James and John his brother, and led them apart to a high mountain. He was transfigured before them; his face became bright as the sun, and his clothes, white as light. Behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with him . Would the Lord have flouted his own commandment by invoking the dead? No, because Moses, Elijah like all the Saints are not spiritually dead but are alive for eternity with our Lord in heaven.
Finally, and this is a crucial point to remember, the intercession of the Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary does not mean adoration which is actually reserved only for God. On the contrary, recognizing the intercession of the Saints and the Blessed Virgin allows us to fully admire the love and creation of God and to fully adore him.
To learn more about the subject, we recommend this very good article available on the Aleteia website right here .
To conclude, as we have seen there is not only one type of prayer and these prayers, although different in form, have only one goal; thank God , declare our love to him because he loved us first, ask him for forgiveness and draw us closer to him. Prayer is fundamental in the life of a Christian; it is truly the water that waters his soul and allows him to draw ever closer to the goodness of the Lord .
We hope that you have enjoyed this blog article aimed at helping and enlightening new Christians. We will surely soon release a new article relating to prayer that is more complete and more in-depth for Christians who are already well experienced and who we hope will be able to help them. to please.
If you would like to know more about the notions of heaven, purgatory and hell, our blog article “ Heaven, Hell and Purgatory in Christianity ” should greatly appeal to you.