Perhaps I’ve mentioned this before, perhaps not, but I’m Catholic (well, I was raised Catholic, anyway). I’m not as well-versed in the faith of the Catholic Church as I’d like to be, and I’m certainly not an expert on prayer. But today, I’m going to talk about prayer, pretending that I have something important to say.
First off, in the Catholic religion, there are a lot of prayers. We are awash in them. There’s the ‘Our Father,’ the ‘Hail Mary,’ the ‘Glory Be,’ the ‘Act of Contrition,’ and more. There are prayers dedicated to saints; and prayers dedicated to angels. I don’t know most of them. I am most familiar with the above four, as they are the four essential prayers to the Rosary as well as the various Mysteries (which I couldn’t recall if you paid me). Anyway, I’m sort-of of the mind that the only prayer we really need is the ‘Our Father.’ After all, that’s pretty much the only prayer given to us by Jesus Christ himself. And it pretty much covers everything anyway. For those unfamiliar with it, here it is:
Our Father, Who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done.
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil. Amen.
There it is in all its glory. The only prayer I know that Jesus Christ gave to us directly. It asks the Father for world peace (and more), daily sustenance, forgiveness, and clear paths. What more do you need? Like I said, the Catholic Church is awash in other prayers, almost as if to give their priests something to do. When you read religious texts, there’s a different prayer on every page. But I don’t want to beat up on Catholics over their enthusiasm for prayer.
Anyway, back to the subject of prayer in general. How do you pray? I generally pray by rote. Strict memorization. I whip off a few Our Fathers, Hail Marys (what is the plural of Mary?), Glory Bes (or Be), and Acts of Contrition. That’s probably not the best way to do it, but I’m really just getting back into the practice. I’ve also started to just talk to God; I used to do that when I was younger, and now I’m trying to get back in the practice. And by the way, He’s only talked back once. I’ve also, inspired by something Glen Beck said, started praying for ridiculous things. Things only God can accomplish or things we need God to accomplish. Like peace in the Middle East or eased tensions with Russia. It can’t hurt.
One comment I want to make concerns prayers to other entities besides God. For example, some people pray to St. Anthony when they’ve lost a keepsake. I’ve tried that a few times, and it seemed to have worked, although that’s not something you can really prove. Anyway, some people think this is idolatry. That you are worshipping St. Anthony instead of God. However, I’d like to point out that no one who prays to St. Anthony is confusing St. Anthony with God. They are asking St. Anthony for a favor. That’s it. They aren’t engaged in out and out worship. It’s more like a long distance phone call to a friend. Besides, I’m kind of the mind that the real God wants love, not worship, anyway. But who am I to say?
Anyway, what is the point of prayer? To get stuff? Well, maybe if you’re praying to St. Anthony it is, but generally no. The point of prayer is to draw closer to God. You’re supposed to work on your relationship with God; on your end, of course. I’m not sure I fully understand what that means, but there it is. That’s the actual point of prayer.