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Three Types of Prayer

I like the way the Catholic Church categorically defines prayer as vocal, meditative and contemplative. It's easy to understand and makes a lot of sense. Here's a quick look at all three.

  • Vocal Prayer — This is the level of prayer that most people use. It includes spontaneous prayer and formulated prayer.

    • Spontaneous prayer is what many ministers do, when they are asked to say a prayer. They develop the prayer as they say it. It's also when you or I just sit down and talk to Jesus the way we would speak to a family member or friend.

    • Formulated prayers are prayers that you get from an outside source. Those are what I offer from this page. The Lord's Prayer is an excellent example of a formulated prayer. They can be said individually, combined for a longer prayer session, or used for specific situations and needs.

  • Meditative Prayer — This is different from Eastern Meditation. An excellent example of meditative prayer is to read a verse of Scripture, rereading a couple of times to absorb it. Then, think about its meaning in general to the world, as well as its meaning for your life. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you during this focus time. You also could do the same with a religious photo. Catholics use a Rosary to meditate on the mysteries surrounding Jesus, such as His crucifixion or birth.

  • Contemplative Prayer — This type of prayer has been around since the beginning of Christianity but is seldom discussed.  Eastern religions call it meditation. In Christianity, we know that it is quieting the environment around us and all of the "stuff" going on in our minds that reflect the world in which we live in order to allow God — let go and let God! We invite God into our world, allowing us to be with Him, and to hear from Him.

These are the three basic types of prayers. You need not do all of them, unless you wish to do so. The majority of people never go beyond vocal prayer. God doesn't mind. In fact, He probably enjoys hearing our voices seeking Him.

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