Prayer is an important part of Catholic worship as it provides the opportunity to communicate with God. The Catholic Catechism states, Prayer is the raising of one’s heart and mind to God or the requesting of good things from God (Catholic Catechism 2259). This shows that prayer is considered a two-way process. As Catholics, we pray to God to develop spiritually, and God has the power to answer prayers.

Set prayers

Set prayers are prayers where we speak together, for example in the Eucharist (which we Catholics often call Mass). The ‘Sign of the Cross’ prayer and the Hail Mary are two examples of set prayers. Catholics may use rosary beads to help them focus during set prayers, as the beads help them to keep count of the prayers they are reciting.

In the name of the Father And of the Son And of the Holy Spirit Amen.Sign of the Cross prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is an example of a very important set prayer. This is the prayer that Catholics believe Jesus taught his followers. It emphasises the importance of forgiveness and reminds Catholics of God’s power.

When Jesus was asked by his followers how they should pray, he taught them the words of the Lord’s prayer:

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.Matthew 6:9-10

Informal prayers

Informal prayers do not follow a set format, and do not require preparation. They can contain an element of personal reflection and these prayers might be performed silently.

Prayer may be carried out silently, in private

Purpose of prayer

Prayers can have different purposes according to the type of prayer. Set prayers help Catholics to come together and worship as part of a community. Informal prayers can be used when someone wishes to communicate with God privately and reflect on their relationship with God in a more personal way.

The five basic forms of prayer

The acronym ACTS is used to remember four key components that are found in many formal prayers. Many Christians will also try to include these in their informal, personal prayers.

  • Adoration – Praising God, eg “Dear God, I know that you are all-loving…”
  • Confession – Saying sorry, eg “Please forgive me for the horrible things I have said about…”
  • Thanksgiving – Thanking God, eg “Thank you for the amazing weather this week…”
  • Supplication – Asking for something, eg “Give me strength to…”

A fifth common component is intercession:

  • Intercession – Praying for someone who may be ill, eg “Please remember my cousin, who is ill, and help them to heal after their operation.”

The five forms of prayer can collectively be called ACTS and I.