What is Prayer?

Prayer begins in humility, a gift from God that involves a divine dimension as well as human action. God seeks us first in prayer. The Holy Spirit moves us to respond in faith to the Father’s calling. Prayer is our response to God’s abiding, faithful love.

But what is prayer? There are many good definitions of prayer, for example, "the lifting of one’s mind and heart to God." Prayer is also asking God for good things. Or prayer is our conscious turning to God, directing our thoughts and love to Him. We can also define prayer as "the heart’s response to our search for God."

In prayer, we enter into a dialogue with the Lord. We both listen to the Spirit and speak our own heartfelt prayers of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication. Conversational prayer involves an active dimension of taking our concerns, worries, petitions, and the like to God. It also involves a passive dimension where we pause and allow God to speak to us.

Prayer awakens us to God’s marvelous activity in our lives. St. Teresa of Avila imaged prayer as a conscious turning to the invisible friend who walks with us always. Prayer indeed deepens our friendship with the Lord and strengthens us for our journey to God. As food is to the body, prayer is to the spirit of Jesus' friends.