All About Prayer in the Catholic Church

Everything You Need to Know About Prayer in the Catholic Church

Young woman praying. Paris. France.
Young woman praying in church. Fred de Noyelle / Getty Images

Saint Paul tells us that we should "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) yet in the modern world, it sometimes seems that prayer takes a back seat not only to our work but to entertainment. As a result, many of us have fallen out of the habit of daily prayer that characterized the lives of Christians in centuries past. Yet an active prayer life is essential to our growth in grace and our advancement in the Christian life. Learn more about prayer and about how to integrate prayer into every aspect of your daily life.

What Is Prayer?

Woman holding a crucifix
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Prayer is one of the most basic activities of all Christians, not just Catholics, and yet it is also one of the least understood. While Christians should pray daily, many find that they do not know how to pray or what to pray for. Too often we confuse prayer and worship, and think that our prayers must use the language and structures that we associate with the Mass or other liturgical services. Yet prayer, at its most basic, is engaging in conversation with God and with His saints.  Once we understand that prayer is not always worship, nor is it simply asking God for something, prayer can become as natural as talking to our family and friends.

The Types of Prayer

Elevation of the Host during Mass at St. Mary's Oratory, Rockford, IL (Photo © Scott P. Richert)
Fr. Brian A.T. Bovee elevates the Host during a Traditional Latin Mass at Saint Mary's Oratory, Rockford, Illinois, May 9, 2010. (Photo © Scott P. Richert)

Of course, there are times when we need to ask God for something. We're all familiar with these types of prayer, which are known as prayers of petition. But there are several other types of prayer as well, and if we have a healthy prayer life, we will make use of each of the types of prayer every day. Learn about the types of prayer and find examples of each type.

Why Do Catholics Pray to Saints?

Central Russian icon of selected saints. (Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)
Central Russian icon (circa mid-1800's) of selected saints. (Photo © Slava Gallery, LLC; used with permission.)

While all Christians pray, only Catholics and Eastern Orthodox pray to the saints. This sometimes leads to great confusion among other Christians, who believe that prayer should be reserved for God alone, and even many Catholics struggle to explain to their non-Catholic friends why we pray to saints. But if we understand what prayer truly is, how it differs from worship, and what it means to believe in life after death, then prayer to the saints makes perfect sense.

Ten Prayers Every Catholic Child Should Know

grandfather and grandson praying together
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Teaching your children to pray can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. Much like teaching your children any basic subject, teaching them how to pray is made much easier through memorization—in this case, of common prayers that your children can say throughout the day. These are the major prayers that should shape the daily prayer life of your children, from the moment they rise in the morning until they go to bed at night, and from their earliest days until the very end of their lives.