What is mental prayer?
Mental prayer or Christian Meditation has been practiced for centuries, especially in religious communities. Yet is available for everyone. You can see more about its benefits in the following link: Why mental prayer?
Here are some simple definition of prayer:
Saint Teresa of Avila
“Prayer is a close sharing between friends”
Saint John Chrysostom
“…a discoursing with the Divine Majesty”
Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God.”
So it’s an intimate relationship with God. When we turn all our being to Him.
It’s just you and the creator.
Click here to find more details about expressions of prayer.
Expressions of prayer
If you follow the link above to you’ll see it mentions 3 expressions of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer.
Liturgical prayer (mass or liturgy of the hours for example) and structured prayer
Work of the intellect in understand the meaning of Christian life in order to live what God has prepared to each one of us. The meditation is generally supported by spiritual reading, especially the bible.
Is the intimate, profound, and silent heart to heart. You and God. A mutual expression of love, or as we can see in the catechism: Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. (CCC paragraph 2715)
So, mental prayer, or meditation is an expression of prayer.
We’re probably going to make use of the 3 of them. All 3 are important and have their role in our life of prayer.
According to Saint Teresa of Avila contemplative prayer is “a Divine union, in which the Lord takes His delight in the soul and the soul takes its delight in Him” mental prayer is a lesser form of prayer, engaging the mind rather uniting than the soul with God.
We should strive to enter into contemplative prayer, but it is a gift, it depends on God’s grace.
And in our side, we need to make the effort not to sin anymore, to gain the great virtues and to be faithful to mental prayer. This is how we show we really want it.
But even before reaching such level of prayer, the benefits are tremendous. Just experiencing life closer to God, in the same time it is gratifying, and it motivate to advance, since you don’t want to go back to where you were anymore. It’s just a better life. It’s like being a little bit closer to heaven.
Degrees of prayer
Saint Teresa of Avila, in the book of her life, compares meditation (mental prayer) to get water from a well with a bucket to water a garden. Then, as a higher level of prayer, using a bucket-type water wheel that needs to be turned by hand, she compared to the prayer of recollection and quiet.
These are the first degrees of prayer that requires a lot of effort from us.
As we progress it becomes easier, like a gardener irrigates the land diverting a stream along irrigation ditches. This, she compares to the prayer of the sleep of the faculties.
The last degree, is similar the rain. This happens when one reaches contemplative prayer, where the Good Lord does the work.
“The rain” happens when one reaches contemplative prayer. The Good Lord does the work.
She also wrote about nine grades of prayer, but for now I’ll stop here to keep it simple.
The objective of “Mental prayer support” is to help the gardener heavy lifting the bucket during the meditation, by walking the beginner through a practical example of prayer, then providing some ideas for meditations and offering the means for a community who wants to deepen the relationship with God and grow spiritually.
So you can learn, then evolve independently.
The mental prayer proposed here is inspired by Lectio divina and almost all mental prayer methods. We follow the most basic elements of them so you can add or adapt whatever you want as you grow deeper in this practice.
So there is nothing new here, we’re just listening to the wisdom of the Church.
The following elements will always be present in our method:
Meditation (Consideration): Pondering some spiritual texts or trying to mentally visualize them.
Prayer: Generally grouped into affections and resolutions. They some fruits or effects of the meditation in us. This is our answer to God’s love and where we also show our love to God.
- Affection: acts of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, humility, hope. All this and whatever will be in your heart. The most important is to express your love to God.
- Resolution: practical acts to be done, in order to grow in virtue, or spiritually, like try to be more patient with someone, be faithful to your daily prayer, or stop bad habits and sins.
Click here to see some benefits of mental prayer.
Click here to see how it works.