“How great is the power of prayer!”
This beautiful quote is from St. Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower”, and she knew something about the importance of prayer: as a child, she would fall asleep with a rosary in her hand. Prayer is a true heart to heart conversation with God, it is a cornerstone in the life of every Christian. It is an immense gift from God, and yet, it can sometimes appear difficult to do.
While there is no “infallible” method of prayer, you can still discover our helpful tips and follow our advice to make prayer a rich, enjoyable part of your life!
To pray is to establish a personal relationship with God: when you pray, you allow Him to love you, and you allow yourself to love Him back. Prayer is an encounter with the Lord, to spend time with Him, both to listen and to talk to Him.
Teresa of Ávila wrote: “the important thing is not to think much but to love much.”. Praying is not so much thinking of God, as it is finding rest in Him: it is not an intellectual activity, it all comes from the heart. Everyone can pray, whether they are baptized or not, secular or ordained… All it takes is to open your soul to the Lord, and invite Him in!
Above all else, a life of prayer is a gift from God. You are not asked to pray as a homework assignment, but you are encouraged to welcome this grace from God: the grace to be able to address Him as your Father, and His Son as your brother, your friend. Remember: prayer is free. No one can force you to do it.
As said before, praying is an emotional encounter, and not an intellectual one. To have faith, to hope and to love are the little sparks which animate the spirit of this encounter
God grants us three theological virtues, which we must learn to cultivate throughout our lives to progress on the path of holiness: faith, hope, and charity. Faith is the faculty to believe and trust in God, and in His Word. It is a virtue by which we understand that God is greater than what our mortal minds can imagine. To hope is to wait. All good things come to those who wait. Hope is strongly rooted in faith: “Lord, I believe in Your promise, you will give me everything I need”. Finally, love, charity - the greatest virtue - is dependent on all the other virtues. St. Teresa of Ávila often used the word “frienship” to describe our relationship with God. Friendships are built on love: they are a source of sharing, of communion with one another, the key to opening our hearts.
Prayer is at the heart and origin of the life of every Christian: it is the source of our meaning. As Pope John Paul II said, prayer is “the secret of a truly vital Christianity” (Novo Millenio Ineunte pt. III, §32. 2001). Christians who don’t pray cut themselves off from their roots and separate themselves from a great fountain of spiritual energy. They give without recharging their soul, only to slowly lose the meaning of things: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15: 4)
In the Gospel of Luke, the Apostles asked Jesus "Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11: 1), and Jesus explained to them how to recite The Lord’s Prayer. Prayer comes directly from Jesus Christ, Who, by teaching His disciples how to pray, taught the practice to the whole universal Church. Jesus Himself would spend long hours praying, and encouraged the Apostles to do the same: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26: 41). The prayer of Christ to the Father came from the body of a human.
To pray is to offer yourself and your companionship to the Lord. St. Teresa of Ávila said it best, when she enjoined us to go to prayer to give more than to receive, and to offer our companionship to the Lord.
The first and most important purpose of prayer isn’t to receive graces from the Lord, but simply to believe in His Word, to profess Your trust in Him and love for Him in the moment. If you pray to offer yourself freely to the Lord, it will become easier for you to accept the times when your prayer feels meaningless and you are bored - you won’t be discouraged.
Finally, to pray is to give your most precious possession to God: time. When you pray, you are placing God at the center of your daily life.
How good it is to give thanks to the Lord! Prayers of thanksgiving are meant to help you acknowledge and accept all of God’s blessings and wonders. If you express sincerely your gratitude for all the things that surround you, you allow yourself to be amazed by everything. Wedding prayers are recited by the bride and groom during the ceremony, and they include a prayer of thanksgiving. Other prayer forms, such as blessings (like the blessing of the food before a meal) also include words of thanksgiving; you can also find many beautiful psalms of thanksgiving:
“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.
When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.
May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear what you have decreed.
May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.
Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever: do not abandon the works of your hands.”
For Christians, it is important to give glory to God with prayers of praise and adoration. Why praise the Lord? Praise is an essential part of prayer: it is a sign of respect and admiration in God, in all His wonders, and of course, in His Creation. It is an acknowledgment of His love and presence in our lives; it is recognizing God as the One True God.
In other words, a prayer of praise is a celebration of His kindness: for a moment, you close yourself to all of your own preoccupations, and focus your entire attention on the Lord. But first, it is important to learn to know Him: how can you praise someone you don’t know?
You can also praise God during important events of the Liturgy, such as the Easter Season.
“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,and forget not all his benefits:
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.”
St. Augustine is often quoted as having said: “he who sings, prays twice” - you can praise the greatness and the might of the Lord in music! Many songs of praise have been composed over the centuries, to fit the different tastes of everybody.
Psalms, prayers, songs… Pick any form you like, because what matters is that you thank the Lord with all your heart!
Prayer can help you place yourself into the hands of God, and abandon yourself totally to His Will. You can pray to ask for His help in letting you trust completely in Him, leaving everything to Him. When you are overwhelmed by events, prayer can be a real lifesaver. For example, prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can help you find refuge in the Heart of Christ, and offer yourself to Him. St. Therese of Lisieux also famously composed beautiful prayers and poems of abandonment to Jesus.
The verse “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” from The Lord’s Prayer is a reminder to abandon ourselves into His hands: we are not praying so He may grant our every wish, but to allow Him to lead us closer to Him, inch by inch, on the path of holiness.
The Lord’s Prayer
“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;
lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Prayer of Abandonment by Charles de Foucauld
“Father, I abandon myself into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all. I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
For I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
To surrender myself into your Hands,
Without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.
“Ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7: 7). You can also say prayers to make requests to the Lord. But what can you ask of Him?
Prayer is not meant to fulfill your human desires, or turn you away from the path God has designed for you. God is not a “magical genie” who will grant us our every wishes. Therefore, you should be careful not to consider Him as a solution to all your problems. God works through us to bring us a profound peace, joy, a renewed strength. He will not intervene to ease and erase all the difficulties of your journey on earth, because it is not His job. However, He will grant you the strength necessary to face the challenges you encounter: this is the case with prayers for healing, which are meant above all else to transform your heart and your perspective on illness, prayers for protection, prayers for help in your work, or prayers to find a soulmate.
Prayers of petition do not always change how things work, but they can really transform the person who recites them. Saying a prayer with faith will always bring results, because it changes us. “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21: 22).
One of the most famous prayers of petition can be found in the second part of The Lord’s Prayer, with the verse: “give us this day our daily bread”. It is a request to the Lord to help us face the daily challenges of our lives with joy and love.
Prayer transforms the hearts of humans, and plants numerous fruits in there. Those fruits can take a while to grow, and they are not always what we expect, but the more time you give to God, the more you will enjoy their long-term benefits in all the domains of your life.
The first and most beautiful fruit of prayer is charity. Jesus Christ saved the world, not through power, but humility and love, which came to touch every saved person. Prayer helps us imitate Jesus and open ourselves to love. When we pray, we enter the path of Jesus Christ, and we attempt to walk in His footsteps.
Many fruits grow from prayer:
A profound peace in our hearts
A sincere joy, which illuminates the people around us, no matter what struggles we face
A new, more confident way of working: we know that God is by our side
A different outlook on others, filled with love and respect
A different approach to the daily challenges of our lives, helping us to review our shortcomings, and to begin new projects.
A changed perspective on life and its many obstacles
A better, deeper understanding of the world
Prayer can help us bring our focus back to what is essential, and go deeper than the surface level. Instead of living on the outside, you’ll learn to develop your interiority, wisdom, discernment and self-awareness.
The grace of prayer is given to us by God in prayer: you learn to pray by praying. Here is a concrete step you can take to pray more effectively (we are aware that everyone has their own different sensibilities, so our advice can be adapted to fit different personalities!).
God is always with you: you can pray to Him everywhere you go. But if you are easily distracted, and have trouble focusing, it might be better for you to find a quiet place, away from others. The best thing you can do is to prepare a corner in your home dedicated to prayer, or go to a neighbouring Church. Going to certain spots in nature, or the downtimes in your schedule are also perfect opportunities to spend time with Jesus.
One minute, one hour… It doesn’t really matter how long you spend in prayer, as long as you are totally committed to God during that time. Saying “I didn’t have the time” is a bit of a soft excuse: you can always spare 5 minutes of your time to God, for example with short morning prayers, quick night prayers, or prayers at any time of the day. A beautiful prayer doesn’t have to be long, and it always feels good to take some time to pray, clear your mind and focus on Christ.
You don’t go to prayer like you would go to work: you come to prayer by making yourself available to the Holy Spirit. No one can know in advance where He will take us. Open yourself and your will to Him, allow Him to enlighten and guide you. That’s what He is here to do: to close the gap between you and the Lord, to raise you up closer to God.
Don’t worry about feeling inspired, or being knowledgeable about prayer! It is totally normal to feel more comfortable with using prayers composed by others than with improvising. Christian tradition abounds with different prayers and psalms, each one more beautiful than the last. Besides, we can sometimes forget how marvellous it can be to recite the Lord’s prayer or the ‘Hail Mary’ with all our heart.
Prayer is also a time dedicated to welcoming the word of God: He loves you, and spoke to you before you even began speaking to Him, His Word touches you through the Holy Scriptures. There are many beautiful Bible verses on which you can meditate during your prayer. You can use the text of the Gospel to encounter God: read it, picture it, find a verse or a sentence that touches you personally… A great method of prayer meditation on the Holy Scriptures is called the Lectio Divina.
You can start your prayer by thanking God for all the graces that you have received, all the encounters that you have made, then ask Him for all the strength you need. You can also entrust your loved ones to the Lord, praise Him and admire His good works, or make a special petition for something that matters to you.
What’s important is that you speak sincerely. When you pray, you don’t need to hide behind mundanities. Praying is accepting to be true to yourself, to others and to the world. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8: 32).
When we don’t really know what to say to the Lord, we can have recourse to The Examen: this prayer method was developped by Ignatius of Loyola to make an examination of conscience and maintain a daily friendly relationship with the Lord. It follow simple steps:
Saying thanks. Begin the prayer by thanking the Lord for the wonderful gift of your life, and all the wonderful things that happened to you during the day (even the smallest ones).
Asking for forgiveness. Listen to your feelings: name them, find the reason behind them, so you can better examine your day. Take this time to recognise your mistakes and ask God to forgive them. Evaluate the difficulties of your day and think about how you could have approached them better. If you can’t find the words to express your apology, and ask Him for His Mercy, you can recite the Act of Contrition.
Saying “please”: filled with a renewed confidence, turn the page on this day and entrust the next to God. Offer Him your fears, your hopes and expectations.
When you pray, you put yourself in the presence of God. It is not just talking, it is also listening, and to listen, you need to keep quiet. Be silent in your heart, enter into a contemplative prayer. A good way to stay focused is to read a sentence of the Daily Gospel and allow it to resonate with you, to fill your mind. Sometimes, simply pronouncing the name of Jesus can be enough to put yourself in His presence and become aware of it.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12: 1).
When you have trouble praying, or are losing focus, when prayer starts to feel boring, it is the perfect moment to offer your difficulties to God. Offer yourself to Him without trying to understand, control or own anything. Your greater wealth comes from being humble, and leaving room within yourself to invite in the Lord. Offering yourself to God means to offer Him your weaknesses and your efforts: it doesn’t matter that you’ve been distracted 20 times during your prayer, it matters that you’ve rejected these distractions 20 times, that you’ve picked yourself up and tried to find your focus back!
Every prayer has a beginning and an end. Say goodbye, take the time to feel grateful for this moment with the Lord, whether it was difficult or pleasant. By saying goodbye, you put the rest of your life into His hands, you entrust Him with your future actions and encounters. Say “bye, thanks”, and “see You later”.
A beautiful prayer is not one that lasts one hour every year or so, it is a regular prayer, anchored in a solid foundation of faith. Prayer is never vain: it always brings its fruits, even if you can’t notice them straight away. Of course, it is never easy to pray every day: sometimes, it can be difficult to feel the presence of God. Try bringing a religious token with you, reciting The Lord’s Prayer or the ‘Hail Mary’ daily to call God back to you every day. And leave enough room in yourself for Him to visit you anytime He wants!
There’s only one answer to this question: both!
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 6).
Prayer isn’t a simple series of gestures, signs, praises, songs, or words. Prayer doesn’t alway mean praying for others, thanking the Lord, reciting a chaplet, or the ‘Our Father’. Prayer is a heart to heart with God in the silence of your heart.
Personal prayer is an essential part of the life of every Christian: it allows you to retire in the silence of your heart and spend some time alone with God. It is an extraordinary gift from the Lord, a breathing of the soul, an opportunity to talk to our Father and develop our inner lives. Personal prayer is indispensable: we are the only masters of our own time, the place we chose and the quality of this moment. Personal prayer leads us to find rest in Jesus, just like He rests within us, and focus on the essential: God.
Personal prayer can be similar to adoration prayers: Eucharistic adoration is a dialogue between you and Jesus Christ, an intimate, personal prayer prayer with Jesus, who takes the form of the consecrated bread: the Holy Sacraments. “This is my body given for you.” (Luke 22: 19). Christians believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, and this moment of adoration is a silent exchange and a heart to heart with Him.
You can learn to develop your personal prayer with external spiritual guidance, of a priest or a religious member for example. Turn to them whenever you have a question. Talking is important to help you become more confident in your prayer. If personal prayer is necessary to bring balance to the life of every Christian person, collective prayer is also essential, especially at Mass, during which the Sacrament of the Eucharist takes place.
Christianity is far from being a religion which promotes individuality. On the contrary, it encourages us to join communities. We are not Christian when or because we’re on our own, we are all one in Christ, praying together in His Church.
Calling ourselves “Christians” means that we accept to belong to a community, to depend on one another, on each other’s love, and that others rely on us. We accept to grow with the help of others, and to help them grow. As St. Paul reminds us: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12: 12). Without others, and their love, we are nothing.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18: 19-20).
Prayer communities come from this notion: the first Christians lived together in communities and prayed together. With the exception of religious members of monasteries, covenants and other Christian organisations, Christians nowadays generally live on their own or with their families (smaller communities, which can also be the subject of our prayers). We are still aware of the importance of praying with a group, to be united in the faith: the Sacrament of the Eucharist, celebrated during Mass, is a perfect occasion for Christians to regularly meet and pray together (Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Kyrie). The Apostles’ Creed is a prayer which Christians recite during the service, professing together their faith in the central tenets of Christianity.
Prayers of the faithful are other beautiful examples of unity: we pray together for collective intentions, and not our own. This observance allows us to open our hearts to others and to their problems (discover examples of prayers of the faithful for different religious events, such as baptisms, wedding ceremonies or funerals). The ‘Our Father’ is a personal prayer, just as much as it is a collective one. The Lord’s Prayer is meant to be prayed with others: after all, we say “Our Father, Who art in Heaven”, and not “My Father”!
This is what religious ceremonies are here for, to pray together, for example when we recite prayers for the departed at funerals. Finally, the Liturgy of the Hours (which organises our day of prayer around Lauds, Vespers, and Compline) is a major moment of community prayer, during which you can recite beautiful Latin prayers. One of the main and most beautiful prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours is the “Glory Be”. The Catechim of the Catholic Church states that: “The Liturgy of the Hours is intended to become the prayer of the whole People of God. In it Christ himself "continues his priestly work through his Church. His members participate according to their own place in the Church and the circumstances of their lives: priests devoted to the pastoral ministry [...]; religious, by the charism of their consecrated lives; all the faithful as much as possible” (Art. 1175).
When we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we never pray alone: we pray in communion with all the Church, in the name of the Church, and in association with Her. It is a collective prayer meant to organise our day, and which always ends with prayer intentions for every Christian, or more generally for every human.
An isolated Christian is a Christian in danger: it can sometimes be easier to pray with others to persevere in prayer, share your burdens and your joys with a group, discuss your faith, or learn to pray. Many prayer communities exist just for that, to help you progress in your life of faith, or to unite you with many other Christians accross the entire world: such is the case with Hozana.org.
Throughout history, Christianity has split into three main branches: Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. Hozana is a Catholic association with Oeucunemical vocations, meaning that it is a Christian organisation, designed to host Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox prayer communities. Oecumenism is the notion according to which Christianity is universal, and Christians observing oecumenism make an effort to promote union between the three main Churches. Praying with saints is a practice which Protestants don’t follow, but it occupies a central place in the hearts of Catholics and Orthodox.
Many of us pray with the saints, because they can feel closer to our humanity than God does, encouraging us to pray to Him. There are many beautiful prayers to the saints, and every saint is traditionally associated with a specific cause or object: St. Rita is the Patron Saint of Impossible Causes and Couples; St. Joseph is the patron saint of families, workers and housing problems; St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of Lost Things and sailors, but he is also prayed to to obtain graces, or find love; St. Expedite can help us fight against evil influences; St. Michael Archangel is a powerful intercessor, and a famous exorcism is dedicated to Him; St. Benedict wrote the famous “Rule of St. Benedict”, which organises the monastic life of His Order, etc.
Another way to ask for the prayers of the many saints is by reciting the litany of the saints. Catholics can also pray to their guardian angels, and invoke them to obtain their protection, notably in your morning prayer… but don’t forget to thank them, too, which you can do during the night prayer. Praying to Guardian Angels have nothing to do with supertition or believing in the occult. Your guardian angel is a protector, sent to us by the Lord, to watch us faithfully and protect us from harm. St. Padre Pio composed many beautiful prayers to his guardian angel!
But, remember: we’re never really praying to the saints, but with them, meaning that we pray for their intercession to the Lord on our behalf. In other words, we always pray to the Lord and Jesus Christ through the saints! The lives of the saints can be a great source of inspiration, to help us model our daily lives after them.
The cult of the saints was set in motion as early as the time of the first martyrs, in the 2nd century: the early Christians would visit the graves of martyrs, who they considered as their models, such as St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Expedite or St. Polycarp. A cult of admiration (which is not to be confused with adoration) was born there, devoted to the courageous men and women who offered their life to Christ. The life of martyrs was considered to be a model to many Christian, and in the 4th century, praying to obtain their protection increasingly became common practice. The many miracles attributed to them strengthened the practice of praying for their intercession.
The Middle Ages marks a transition from the cult of the martyrs to the cult of the saints, which gains in popularity among peasants and countrymen, thanks to both an effort from the Church, and a growth of popular devotion: the Church proclaims that the lives of the saints are a model of Christian life, and the faithful pray for their protection, fervently convinced of their miraculous intervention. In Europe, pilgrimages, and the cult of angels and relics begin to rise: sanctuaries and other iconic religious sites are built, huge cathedrals are constructed to preserve the remains of the saints...
The general idea of the Reformation, in the 16th century, is that while the life of saints can be considered as a model of Christian life, the saints themselves are in no way intercessors to the Lord: Christ is the only mediator between God and humans. Finally, the Council of Trent, held between 1545 and 1563, approves of the practice of the Catholic cult of the saints with the following words: “the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer up their own prayers to God for men; that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to have recourse to their prayers, aid, and help for obtaining benefits from God, through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our alone Redeemer and Saviour.”
The cult of the saints holds a very special place in the lives of the Catholics and Orthodox, as can the many works of art, and the many miracles associated with the saints over the centuries, attest to that!
For Catholics and Orthodox alike, The Virgin Mary holds a very special position. In Catholic tradition, She is the Immaculate Conception, chosen by God to bear His Son. She is a model of purity, gentleness, humility, and God recognised Her many virtues by granting Her the immense grace of giving birth to Jesus Christ. The Church refers to Mary under Her three main names: Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the Immaculate Conception. Many apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been reported around the world: in Fatima (Portugal), Lourdes (France), Guadalupe (Mexico)...
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception recognises Mary as the only woman to not have been touched by sin, who, by pronouncing Her “yes”, allowed the coming of Christ to the world. As such, the Virgin Mary is the subject of a strong devotion, and there are many prayers and acts of consecrations to Her. Despite Her special place in the communion of the saints, and the privileged relationship between Her and the Lord, Mary is Herself a saint: when you pray to Her, you are asking Her to intercede to the Lord on your behalf. And for a good reason: she is a powerful intercessor, but She is also Our Mother.
Discover the many prayer communities to the Virgin Mary!
A novena is a prayer form, which consists in praying for nine successive days for a special intention, to obtain a special grace, or to prepare for a liturgical event. Generally speaking, praying for the intercession of a saint is often part of many novenas. It is a very popular prayer form, because it is arguably the most human one:
The novena takes many days to be completed, it gives us the time to present the difficulties we are facing, to pray for the help of the Lord, and to prepare our hearts for receiving His graces.
It can feel easier to pray to a saint or the Virgin Mary than to God. We can be inspired by their example. Knowing that they are actively praying for us can also be a very comforting thought.
Traditionally, novenas to St. Joseph and St. Rita are some of the most popular ones: each of these two saints are prayed to for their personal charisms. There are also many novenas to the Virgin Mary, for example to prepare our heart for the celebration of her Immaculate Conception on August 15th, or to ask for Her assistance, with the novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. Finally, St. Michael Archangel also holds a special place for believers, who pray to him in the form of novenas, especially to obtain his help and protection. Although many novenas are more popular than others, there is no strict rule when it comes to starting one, or following a defined structure and schedule. You can pray for any intention, ask for the intercession of any saint of your liking, or not at all.
There is a very popular prayer form, used to pray to Mary, and to God (through Her intermediary): The Rosary. The Rosary is a set of prayers and Biblical meditations on the four mysteries of the life of Christ (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, Luminous) during which are recited the “Lord’s Prayer”, 10 “Hail Marys” and one “Glory Be”.
Mother Teresa enjoined us to “Cling to the Rosary as the creeper clings to the tree, for without Our Lady, we cannot stand.”
The Rosary is the “prayer of the people”, it is a beautiful and simple way of praying daily. It reminds us of the life that Christ offered for our salvation, and allows us to place ourselves in the heart of Mary to relive the powerful moments of His life. Every ‘Hail Mary’ is a prayer of thanksgiving to Our Mother, like a rose placed at Her feet, whether it is recited during a decade, a meditation on one set of the mysteries, or the entire prayer of the Rosary. What is the difference between all these prayers?
A decade corresponds to 10 ‘Hail Marys’ on the beads of The Rosary. Meditating on one of the main mysteries means that you recite 5 decades, since the main mysteries are broken down into 5 events of the life of Christ. Praying the entire Rosary means that you pray and meditate on the four mysteries, reciting a total of 200 “Hail Marys”!
There are other forms of prayers, which follow the general structure of a Rosary: these are called “chaplets”. For example, you can learn to recite the Chaplet of the Holy Spirit, or the Chaplet of St. Michael. Another less known, but equally beautiful Rosary prayer is The Rosary of St. Joseph, which can help you explore the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ through the eyes of His benevolent Foster-Father.
“Communion with Jesus Christ leads the disciples to assume the attitude of prayer and contemplation which the Master himself had. To learn to pray with Jesus is to pray with the same sentiments with which he turned to the Father: adoration, praise, thanksgiving, filial confidence, supplication and awe for his glory. [...] When catechesis is permeated by a climate of prayer, the assimilation of the entire Christian life reaches its summit. This climate is especially necessary when the catechumen and those to be catechized are confronted with the more demanding aspects of the Gospel and when they feel weak or when they discover the mysterious action of God in their lives.” (General Directory for Catechesis, Teaching to Pray, 85).
As was said before, prayer is the cornerstone of Christianity, but this aspect of spirituality can too often be neglected when learning a religion: we cultivate the spirit, and forget to cultivate the heart. And yet, without prayer, there is no relationship between you and God. Prayer helps you grow confidence, faith, love, hope and joy. But this immense gift from God is also a very demanding one. Hozana’s mission is to help you pray: by offering you a wide range of spiritual content, by helping you persevere, by reminding you that you have made the choice to love and follow God.
Hozana is a social network dedicated to prayer, on which you can create and join prayer communities designed to answer your various spiritual needs. More than 250 000 believers have joined us to pray together, and use this incredible resource to enrich their lives of prayer and perseverance in faith.
Prayer is necessary to cultivate your faith, to build and maintain a relationship with the Lord. As Pope Francis said: “God loves us. We must not be afraid to love him.” So, what are you waiting for?