• Font:
  • Minus
  • Plus
  • Add This

Examples of Prayer

Two favorite prayers of our Redemptorists are the Our Father and The Jesus Prayer. Jesus is the living example of prayer. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus teaches us how to pray. He says prayers as customary as thanksgiving before meals (Mt 26:26) and He prays before important acts or decisions, such as choosing the Apostles. He prays in solitude and with others. He prays both in joy (Lk 10:21) and in great anguish (Lk 22:42).

Our Father

In the Our Father, Jesus teaches us a prayer that contains all the elements — Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (ACTS).

Our Father who art in heaven.
Jesus, Son of the Father, has given us this prayer. Only family can say it. And Jesus has given us that, to share in his breath and blood, to be children of the same Father. Only the children of the family speak of their mother and father as "Mommy" and "Daddy," no matter how old they grow, no matter that their parents may be deceased. Jesus has given us a word from the language he spoke, Abba. It is affectionate, familiar, maybe even like "Daddy."

Hallowed be thy name.
This is adoration: "Holy, Holy, Holy." It is the song of the angels and saints, indeed of all creation.

Thy kingdom come.
This is the yearning of all the earth. We work hard for goodness, truth, and beauty. We sing, "Let us build the city of God." But the accomplishment is God's work and gift, though our labor is important. In the Book of Revelation, the city we seek, the New Jerusalem, comes down from heaven.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
St. Alphonsus, ever practical, says there are just two things to pray for: to see the will of God and to have the strength to accomplish it. No wonder. If we trace the words and ways of Jesus in the Scripture we come to see someone who looked above all to the will of the Father.

Give us this day our daily bread.
The bread may be anything that we need. The forceful word is daily. The life with God is a life of security and poverty. The security is expressed in another prayer, "Lord, help me to remember today that nothing is going to happen to me that you and I cannot handle." That expresses poverty also. It is just not in us to take responsibility for more than today. Tomorrow we take it up again, and pray again for that daily bread.

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Someone has spoken of this as a covenant of forgiveness. In this prayer we receive God's forgiveness and in that forgiveness the power to forgive others. Many of us suffer from not being able to forgive. We say, "I can forgive, but I cannot forget." This problem proves the worth of the old words, "To err is human, to forgive is divine." This verse of the Our Father is often a prayer for a miracle. The miracle will come.

And lead us not into temptation.
There are places where we ought never to go, where only Jesus could have gone. He alone descended into hell. In the Garden of Gethsemane He left his disciples behind to pray as He went ahead and wrestled with evil. This is a contest for Giants of Good and Evil, not for us.

We also pray that on an everyday level we receive the guidance and the strength to pass through the temptation and testing that befall everyone. We can have every confidence that the Father will never allow us to be tested beyond our strength. And we pray to avoid the occasions of sin, those places, people, and situations that trip us into sin. We pray to be mindful of prayer when tempted. For part of temptation is to neglect prayer.

But deliver us from evil.
One of the great delusions of our age is that there is no real good or evil, no sin. Some say this is the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit of which Jesus warned us. This is the confusing of good and evil, saying that one is the other.

To be delivered from the touch of evil is to be restored to an innocence and beauty that most of us have lost to knowing evil. There are some things we wish we had never learned. We had thought, like the man and the woman in the garden that we would be like gods, knowing good and evil. "But Christ has purchased for us what we lost in Adam, our garment of innocence. He has bid us and enabled us to become as little children" (Cardinal John Henry Newman).

The Jesus Prayer

Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Such a simple prayer; available at any time — standing in line at the grocery checkout, driving down the road. This prayer and its practice stem from the tradition of the Eastern or Orthodox Church. It embodies the urgent teaching of the Scripture that we ought to pray always.

A popular book by an unnamed Russian seeker of the mid-19th century, The Way of a Pilgrim, describes this spiritual quest and the practice of the Jesus Prayer. One enters a silent space inside oneself and reverently repeats this prayer, again and again. The outer space of the one praying may be a church, or it may be the subway, or the car he or she is driving.

This style of prayer may be a matter of retreating for a few minutes from work or other activity. It may be a matter of a long time in silence. Or it may be the constant prayer of the whole day long, like background music to all else.

Many people, even instinctively, use elements of this practice by slowly repeating the name of Jesus, only that, or by repeating phrases, like "My Jesus, mercy," "Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours."

It is a good way to heed the line of the song, "Slow down, you're going too fast." But as prayer, it is not basically about us, but about God, raising our minds and hearts to Him. He blesses us with His peace.

By the way, many people do pray always. A priest visiting the elderly and shut-ins often hears, "Father, all I do is pray." It is a gift worth working at.

Help us do God's work

Your gifts make it possible!

Give a secure gift online

Give by mail

Enroll loved ones in our Masses

Amazon Smile