There are a million different ways to pray. I have been trying to pray more and to purposefully try to live a life in which I am 'praying constantly'. One type of prayer that I feel needs some attention is rote prayers like the Hail May or the Our Father. I have heard people say that this type of prayer is meaningless, not really prayer and simply a memorization of words. This may be true in some cases. These prayers can be said simply as a string of words that you were made to memorize in CCD class. But they can also be a beautiful form of prayer. Just because you did not write the words of the prayer does not mean that you can't make them your own and pray them with true meaning to the Lord. But in order to do this you need to know and understand what you are praying. You must take a close look and every word that you are praying. Then you are really praying and not just saying a string of words.
One night when I was traveling, I was lying awake at night. I couldn't get up or turn on a light and I couldn't sleep. My mind kept wondering and causing me to worry. I needed something to focus my mind on. I started praying the Hail Mary very slowly and deliberately, making meaning out of every word. I felt like I was really speaking to Mary. Although I havn't gone into so much depth since that night, I have not prayed the Hail Mary the same either. I went from simply saying the Hail Mary to truly praying the Hail Mary.
I recently started reading a book on commentaries on the Our Father. This book breaks down the Our Father and gives background and meaning to each word of the prayer. This is just what I need to help myself learn to really pray the Our Father.
I will be posting with my thoughts on really praying the Our Father word for word and what I learn from commentaries. I hope this helps you to remember the joy and beauty of praying rote prayers.
P.S. I can see some good from simply reciting these prayers even when they are simply a string of words, but more on that later.
Dear Lord, Help me to pray constantly and find meaning and truth in the Lord's prayer.