Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at
every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all.
This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life in the Deuteronomic and
prophetic traditions insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often
awakened by the memory of the heart: “We must remember God
more often than we draw breath.”
But we cannot pray “at all times”
if we do not pray at specific times, consciouslywilling it. These are the
special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration.
The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain
rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer. Some are
daily, such as morning and evening prayer, grace before and after
meals, the Liturgy of the Hours. Sundays, centered on the Eucha-
rist, are kept holy primarily by prayer. The cycle of the liturgical
year and its great feasts are also basic rhythms of the Christian’s life
The Lord leads all persons by paths and in ways pleasing
to him, and each believer responds according to his heart’s resolve
and the personal expressions of his prayer. However, Christian
Tradition has retained three major expressions of prayer: vocal,
meditative, and contemplative. They have one basic trait in com-
mon: composure of heart. This vigilance in keeping the Word and
dwelling in the presence of God makes these three expressions
intense times in the life of prayer.
EXPRESSIONS OF PRAYER
Through his Word, God speaks to man. By words, mental
or vocal, our prayer takes flesh. Yet it is most important that the
heart should be present to him to whomwe are speaking in prayer:
“Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number
of words, but on the fervor of our souls.”
1 St. Gregory of Nazianzus,
, 27, 1, 4: PG 36, 16.
2 St. John Chrysostom,
Ecloga de oratione
2: PG 63, 585.