If prayer is a conversation with God, what do we say to him?
There are four traditional forms of Catholic prayer that we use in addressing God. They can easily be remembered by using the acronym ACTS:
The most important type of prayer is Adoration, in which we address him as the Creator of all things. We praise God’s majesty and goodness. We adore God not because of what he does. We praise and adore him because he is.
The second type of prayer is the prayer of Contrition or repentance. We acknowledge to God that we have sinned, both against him and against our fellow humans. We are sorry for both actions that have damaged the coming of the kingdom of heaven, as well as those things that we have omitted doing to further its arrival. We admit that we need him.
Thanksgiving again recognizes our place as creatures of our Creator. We thank God in that all we have comes from him: our lives, our families and friends, and especially his free gift of faith. We acknowledge him as the source of all that is good.
Lastly, Supplication once more recognizes God as the source of all that is good. We ask him to care for all of our needs (petition). We ask in confidence, knowing that if we ask for anything that furthers the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, it will be granted in some form. To that end, we may pray for others (intercession), asking God to help them, even to the point of asking for God’s blessings on our enemies.
Here’s a short video that explains a “how to” approach to prayer, involving scripture and the four different types of prayer. It’s slanted toward the younger crowd (Stefanick is a youth minister), but well worth a few minutes:
The Mass is the most important prayer of the Church. It contains nultiple examples of all four forms of prayer; for example:
- Adoration: The Gloria
- Contrition: The Confiteor (“I confess”)
- Thanksgiving: the Eucharistic Prayer
- Supplication: the Prayer of the Faithful