Four different forms of prayer

By | November 17, 2010

When you listen to the Scripture readings for the feast of Christ the King, you will expect them to be explicit in one thing — acknowledging Christ as the king of heaven and earth. However, if you listen to the readings with a different set of ears, they give us insight on how to pray in Christ.

The Catholic Church instructs us to employ four modes of prayer: petition, adoration, contrition and thanksgiving. For many of us, our prayer probably falls into the pattern of, “Dear God will you please…” followed by “O Lord I am sorry for” and when we remember “O God thank you for.” Very seldom do we remember to engage in the energetic praise of God you will hear expressed in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. It is a beautiful prayer of praise. If an evangelical church in the South were to use this reading, I am sure that every line would be punctuated with “Halleluiah,” “Praise Jesus” and “Amen, O yes Lord” from the listeners. Can you remember a time when your prayer was filled with that tone of praise and worship?

When you listen to the Gospel, pay attention to the intimacy the good thief expresses in his prayer of supplication. “Jesus, remember me.” The use of one’s name during the time of Jesus was reserved to family and the closest of friends. The good thief, with conversion and trust, bared his soul to Jesus. Do you feel yourself relating to Jesus in such an intimate way when you go to him in prayer?

When we celebrate the liturgy, its various parts express different forms of prayer. The Kyrie acknowledges God’s mercy and saving deeds. The Gloria is a hymn of praise, the general intercessions lay our petitions before God, and the prayer after Communion carries the tone of gratitude. The eucharistic prayer however, stands above the rest; it is a finely crafted prayer which entwines each form of prayer within its context. Listen carefully and be attentive to how you will engage in the eucharistic prayer this Sunday and at every liturgy.

Also, give attention to the hymns you will sing on this great feast of Christ the King, the last feast of our church year. Pay attention to the decorations that will be used to enhance the celebration. You should hear, feel and even see prayers of praise for Christ our King!


Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.

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