Because the question of “how to pray” comes up so often in spiritual direction, I want to offer my own explainer on beginning interior prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of three types of prayer: vocal (memorized prayers, typically prayed out loud), meditative (called discursive or mental, as it prioritizes active thinking), and contemplative (a word with many definitions, though generally passive and heart based) (#2699). Notice the progression. This instruction is for beginners or those moving into meditative prayer since those advanced in prayer need different advice. The word “interior” is preferable to “mental” because it facilitates the transition from head to heart as St. Theresa of Avila’s indicated with her treatise on prayer, The Interior Castle. Prayer is paying attention to God and intentionally spending time with Him. It is a dialogue, or mutual listening and speaking about what matters most. Try 7Rs to begin interior prayer:
"The following article is adapted from Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids
Most people think that faith is something you either have or you don’t. But research by Emory University’s Dr. James Fowler revealed that faith evolves in discernible stages throughout our lifespan. At each stage, a person’s faith needs to be nourished in different ways if it is to grow and mature into the next stage. If we don’t receive the right kind of support, faith development can stall or even wither. Because Fowler viewed faith as a natural and essential part of every human person’s search for meaning, significance, and transcendence, Fowler’s Stages of Faith track with other developmental stages you might remember from your Psych 101 class, such as Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development and Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development. What Stage of Faith are you at? And what do you need to do to more effectively continue your search for meaning, significance, and transcendence?
STAGE 0: Primal Faith (Infancy)– People might be surprised to realize that babies have faith. It’s true that they don’t have a conscious experience of faith and can’t articulate specific beliefs, but this stage is tremendously important because it sets the stage for baby’s view of God and the world. If parents respond to baby’s needs promptly, generously, and consistently, baby learns the basic, gut-level sense of trust that is necessary to believe that when I call out, God will answer. If parents delay responding to baby’s cries, baby develops gut-level insecurity that anyone will respond when I cry out or that there is anyone to bother crying out to in the first place.