In Christian prayer, we "pray" anytime we deliberately choose to relate to God. Thus, prayer consists of a vast assortment of modes, including: using words to converse with God, using no words with the aim of listening quietly and savoring divine presence, ruminating over thoughts and ideas, trying not to have any thoughts and ideas, extending and receiving love, imaging and visualizing, and searching for guidance by discerning choices and decisions. Within these modes, there are numerous human expressions in communicating with God: intercessory, praise, contrition, gratitude, grieving, searching, celebrating, struggling, etc.

Varied methods comprise the content of prayer: reciting the psalms alone or with others, pondering Scripture passages or other sacred texts, using repetition such as a word or phrase in centering meditation, praying the rosary, carrying on a conversation with God, walking meditatively, enjoying the beauty and wonder of nature, using the written prayers of others, journaling one's own reflections and prayer, sitting in solitude and contemplation, joining others for Eucharistic liturgy or participating in other sacramental celebrations, reading spiritually oriented books that help one pause to ponder and draw inspiration for communion with God and, every now and then, doing what my friend Judy Cauley terms "emergency prayer," which consists of just one loudly spoken word: "HELP!" These ways, plus all those unexpected moments in the midst of life when we sense a oneness with the Great Mystery, are part of what is known as "prayer."

Joyce Rupp in Prayer