What is Prayer?

Christiane reflects on the meaning of prayer and why it’s so important that we grow a strong prayer life within the jungle of our everyday living.

Young Catholics in prayer at the Canonisation of Saint John Paul II
Young Catholics in prayer at the Canonisation of Saint John Paul II

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord’. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms”.

Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, invites all Christians to have an authentic life of prayer. But how do we do this? And what does a life of prayer mean? Firstly, we need to understand that prayer is not a thing outside of us. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux said “for me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

Prayer is a story of friendship, of love. It resembles human life. So many people can be friends of the same person, but each one will be unique, single and unrepeatable. Or like so many brothers and sisters who have the same parents, but each one has a unique way to dialogue and connect with them. Likewise, each one of us has a particular way to speak with God. Prayer is like speaking with a friend, with whom you talk about your life, the things that make you happy and upset. The difference is this friend, God, is the best friend we can have, because his love is stronger than every other love in our life, and He knows us better than we know ourselves.

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Young Catholics will pray anywhere and everywhere!

We will never be experts in prayer; however, we will always be disciples who strive to learn the way to dialogue with God. Prayer is a genuine education in learning about ourselves; it is a mirror where we are called to recognise our countenance as an image from the wonderful countenance of God. The mystics recognised that we are a reflection of God and that He reflects himself in us. Through prayer we grow in faith and our journey to find ourself.

When we let God love us, our human love is purified into a new love. Prayer builds stronger convictions and underpins our vocation to become able to resist all difficulties which we may encounter. Prayer in this way means to not be afraid of ourselves, to look at our wounds, to not give up in the face of our failures, but always start walking again and getting back on track towards our destination: to be saints. For this goal, it is important to pray with humility and sincerity.

Let’s start?

To help you start to pray, you can use a song, a spiritual book or the Scriptures. In a place where you can be alone for a period of time, close your eyes and put yourself before God. He is always with us, but, because of our busy lives, we sometimes forget this. It’s important to recognise He is with us. Start to talk about your life, the things you want to ask Him. Like Pope Francis said, you can ask the Holy Spirit to enter your heart and renew your love of God, to grow a stronger experience of God’s love. My suggestion today is to pray with this song, but be free to pray how you want!

I Give You My Heart

This is my desire to honour You
Lord with all my heart
I worship You
All I have within me
I give You praise
All that I adore is in You

Lord I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I live for You alone
Every breath that I take
Every moment I’m awake
Lord have Your way in me

And I will live
And I will live for You