God loves us with the tenderness of a doting parent and longs to be in a close and trusting relationship with us. Like any good relationship, regular quality time is needed in order for the relationship to develop. Prayer is how we talk to our loving God; it is also how we listen for what God might be saying to us. St Teresa of Avila described it as ‘a close sharing between friends’.
Prayer is integral to faith. In prayer, we invite God into all the details of our lives. We express our thanks, our praise, our concerns, our sorrow and regret, knowing we are deeply loved by a forgiving God. While it might feel awkward at first, launching into a conversation with God demonstrates our trust—not just that God is there and is listening, but that God will respond and is more than capable of meeting our needs.
We don’t need to wait until we feel worthy or ‘spiritual’ enough to pray. God wants to meet us just as we are. Nor do we need to be anxious about what words to use. The Bible says, ‘when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words’ (Romans 8:26).
Just as infants learn to speak in the context of their families, we learn to pray in the context of God’s family, the Church. Prayer is as much a communal act as it is as a personal or individual one.
Praying the prayers of the Church connects us not only to God and to those with whom we gather, but also to Christians around the world and through all the ages. Memorising some prayers from the Catholic Church’s rich prayer tradition, and repeating them often, is an excellent way of learning to pray. The prayer that Jesus himself taught his followers, the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father), is a great place to start. Most of all, we invite you share who you are—your deepest desires, dreams, worries and concerns—with our loving God. He is always ready and waiting to receive you.