“Prayer, for me, is simply a raising of the heart, a simple glance towards Heaven, an expression of love and gratitude in the midst of trial, as well as in times of joy; in a word, it is something noble and supernatural expanding my soul and uniting it to God. Whenever my soul is so dry that I am incapable of a single good thought, I always say an Our Father or a Hail Mary very slowly, and these prayers alone cheer me up and nourish my soul with divine food.”
— St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 141, Story of a Soul
The more one prays, the simpler prayer becomes. Simple not in the choice of words or in the fact that one must work at maintaining a constant prayer life (as would one work to maintain any relationship that is dear and important), but simple in the sense of being with God. The more one prays, the closer one gets to God and the easier and more relationally real prayer becomes.
There are two types of prayer, mental and vocal. Mental prayer is when we converse with God in our own words. Vocal prayer is when we pray and use prayers that are written (usually by others) and are spoken to God. Hail Mary is a vocal prayer. The Jesus prayer is a vocal prayer and of course, the Lord’s prayer (Our Father) is a vocal prayer. Both types of prayer can build intimacy with God.
Some think that vocal prayers like the Hail Mary or the Jesus Prayer are meaningless repetitions. Not so! Any prayer can be meaningless if it is not from the heart or is said simply as a religious duty. Vocal prayer, repeated with focus and desire, can be one of the best ways to draw near to God. I know that some think that the Hail Mary is an act of worship or idolatry of Mary. Again not so. The Hail Mary is a request for intercession not worship. I have come to find it an effective, uplifting, and fruitful prayer in my life.
Praying is one of the most important works of faith we can be involved in. In prayer we speak to God who loves to hear our voice. Not only does God want to hear our voice, God wants to communicate with us in a manner that makes our relationship with God more assuring and intimate.
So, let us bow our heads, or lift up our hands, speak our hearts desires from our thoughts or pray using the gifts and prayers given us by the Church. Let us pray often. Let us pray with hope. God is listening.