Do We Pray or Do We Say Our Prayers?
Is there a difference between praying and saying our prayers?
I read an article recently on the National Catholic Register that made me ponder that question.
Praying is a conversation with God. Now that conversation can take the form of mental prayer and vocal prayers, such as the Our Father. The key is that whichever form of prayer we choose, we should be completely focused on the words and most importantly on God.
In the Way of Perfection, St Teresa describes an interesting way a nun in the convent used to say the “Our Father”,
She would say a number of Paternosters, corresponding to the number of times Our Lord shed His blood, and on nothing more than these and a few other prayers she would spend two or three hours. She came to me once in great distress, saying that she did not know how to practise mental prayer, and that she could not contemplate but could only say vocal prayers. She was quite an old woman and had lived an extremely good and religious life. I asked her what prayers she said, and from her reply I saw that, though keeping to the Paternoster, she was experiencing pure contemplation, and the Lord was raising her to be with Him in union. She spent her life so well, too, that her actions made it clear she was receiving great favours. So I praised the Lord and envied her her vocal prayer.
So even though this nun was reciting a memorized prayer, she was able to connect to God in a special way by praying the Our Father and some other prayers. In other words, she was praying versus “saying her prayers.”
However, we choose to pray, we have to be so careful that the prayer does not become simply habit. Remember when we pray, we speak with God himself and we ascend a little closer to heaven.
Since today is the Feast of St John Vianney in the traditional Latin Mass, I leave you with some quotes from St John Vianney on prayer:
“Prayer is to our soul what rain is to the soil. Fertilize the soil ever so richly, it will remain barren unless fed by frequent rains.”
“When you awake in the night, transport yourself quickly in spirit before the Tabernacle, saying: ‘Behold, my God, I come to adore You, to praise, thank, and love you, and to keep you company with all the Angels,’ ”
“Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.”
“If we really loved the good God, we should make it our joy and happiness to come and spend a few moments to adore Him, and ask Him for the grace of forgiveness; and we should regard those moments as the happiest of our lives.”
“Man is a beggar who needs to ask God for everything.”
“A mortal man, a creature, feeds himself, satiates himself, with his God, taking him for his daily bread, his drink… O miracle of miracles!… O love of loves!… O joy of joys!”