As Catholics, we are taught various prayers to memorize and say at any given point. The majority of our Mass is tradition and routine. Catholics often get hung up on the memorized, pre-written prayers. Other denominations can get hung up on their own prayers, forgetting the beauty that comes from praying in unison. But in actuality, each prayer is perfectly imperfect in its own ways.
When we pray, whether written or not, there are five different types of prayer. They may happen all at once or be divided into five distinct parts. Adoration, expiation, love, petitioner, and thanksgiving are all integral to creating a prayer life that is complete.
Adoration is a prayer of worship that praises God. It is also an acknowledgement of our eternal dependence on God. At Mass, when we pray or sing the Gloria, is an example of a prayer of adoration. It can also be an appreciation for the magnitude that is God, admiring all God has done and will do, and how we do it all through God.
Expiation is a cry for forgiveness, when we ask God to forgive us for all of our frailties and sins. The sacrament of confession requires a prayer of expiation, an act of contrition, a true request for forgiveness. Asking for this, for God's mercy, helps bring us closer to God despite our failings.
The third type of prayer, love, is similar to a prayer of adoration. These prayers are a declaration of love for God, because God is love and is the source of all love.
Prayers of thanksgiving are like the prayers before or after you eat, thanking God for all that has and will be given. We should be thanking God daily for all we have been given. Try writing down three things you are thankful for each day or reflecting on your day and your "thankfuls" on your way home from work. We should be appreciative of all that we are given.
The final form of prayer, the prayer we use the most, is petition. When we ask God for something. But these petitions should always include an acceptance of God's will in our life. Sometimes the things we pray for are not what we want or need, and we need to be okay with that. We need to acknowledge that God has the final say on what we need and because God loves us, God truly does know best.
Take some time today and reflect on how and when you pray. Do you tell God how much you love God? Do you say thank you or ask for forgiveness? How do you pray?