by Rev. Albert Rung



It is beyond the purpose of this talk to dwell upon the need of attention, devotion, humility, confidence, resignation and perseverance in prayer.  Every well-instructed Catholic knows that prayer is unavailing without these qualities.  But to make prayer more efficacious and less monotonous a short explanation of the various kinds of prayer will be instructive and helpful.  the most frequent form of prayer is the prayer of petition.  It consists in asking God for what we need for soul and body.  The man of faith finds this kind of prayer quite in accordance with his belief in the power and goodness of God.  Conscious of his dependence upon God, he naturally turns to God for aid in every emergency.  The more helpless human agencies, the more sincerely the Christian has recourse to God.  Not only impelled by extreme need, but also in lesser needs the trustful child of God appeals to his heavenly Father.  No need is too small, no number too many, for the good God.  He looks not so much on what is asked as upon the humility and childlike confidence with which it is asked.  Such prayer of petition includes many acts of virtue pleasing to God.  It is an act of adoration in as much as by asking God to grant our needs, we acknowledge Him as the Giver of all good gifts, upon whom we are entirely dependent.  It is also an act of obedience, since it fulfills the admonition of Christ, "to ask and it shall be given you," and, "to call upon Him in the day trouble."  In it, furthermore, is a beautiful act of resignation, for we are taught ever to to pray: "Not my will but Thine be done."  Being an honor to God gives an additional assurance that the petition will be looked upon with favor by the heaven Father.  It is only wise, then, to go to our heavenly Father with our every need and want.  This truth is often forgotten and many turn to God only when every other means of help has been futile.  It may not even then be too late, but surely it does small honor to God to think of "Him so tardily.  Many a prayer is without fruit because of the absence of a petition.  Though overwhelmed with needs of body and soul, he who prays only out of routine misses the chance of obtaining help because he does not earnestly present his needs to God,  Who would readily aid but for the asking.  It is advised, therefore, always to pause before beginning a prayer and to fix our intention for praying.

Every prayer should have a reason for it, either a petition to be asked, or a motive of praising God, thanking Him, o of propitiating His offended holiness and justice.  These motives give us an intimation of the other forms of prayer, namely, prayer of praise, prayer of thanksgiving, and prayer of propitiation.  Although less often practiced that the prayer of petition, these latter kinds of prayer are the more excellent.  In prayer of petition man is more concerned about himself; in the other kinds, God is made the principal motive for the prayer.  In prayer of petition, the petitioner seeks his own good; in the other kinds of prayer he who prays desires God's good.