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Sunday, June 30, 2013

What is mental prayer and how can you do it?

by Connie Rossini

St. Therese of Lisieux. (Public Domain).
St. Therese of Lisieux (photo in public domain).

Catholics divide prayer into 2 broad categories – vocal and mental. Vocal prayer includes prayers written for recitation. Mental prayer is prayer in one’s own words.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “Mental prayer, in my view, is nothing but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary converse, with Him Who we know loves us.” St. Thérèse of Lisieux likewise wrote, “With me prayer is an uplifting of the heart; a glance towards heaven; a cry of gratitude and love, uttered equally in sorrow and in joy.”

Catholics are generally comfortable with vocal prayer, but mental prayer can leave us at a loss. How can you spend 20 minutes or more in prayer without a pre-written text? How can you keep your prayer from becoming mere rambling?

St. Teresa strives to make mental prayer simple and accessible to all. Since each soul is unique, each person’s prayer is unique as well. There is no one-size-fits-all model. The method of mental prayer takes 2nd place to the attitude of the heart. Still, for beginners especially, a general format to follow is helpful.

Continue reading at  Contemplative Homeschool  for a suggested method of mental prayer.


  1. now I use wordless, quite mind prayer- the "He looks at me; I look at Him" type and it is like finally coming home to rest in His heart. Such a relief

    1. That is a relief, isn't it? But it's something beginners can't force. It usually comes naturally after the hard preparations of using some kind of method. And often still I find my mind is just not settled enough to sit quietly in God's presence. I have to talk, or I won't be praying at all.

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