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Another Sunday, another topic on spirituality and religion, and this one covers one of the single most important things that every one of us can be, and should be, doing on a regular basis. I am talking about the simple act of prayer.

Taking just a few minutes, heck even just a few seconds, to ask God for his help, guidance, protection, and assistance in some matter of importance to us. Our prayer can be for almost anyone or anything, and can take on many forms, formal and informal, in a group or in solitude.

I believe that it is important to keep a running dialogue with God as a part of your life. First of all, He wants it. God wants you to stay in touch with Him, to talk to Him, to open yourself up to Him. And second of all, He deserves it. He is your Creator, the Maker of all that was, is, and ever will be.

For bringing you in to this wonderful world that He has created, you owe Him your regular interaction. It is the one thing that He really wants more than any other, your love and acceptance of Him as your Father.

There are many things that you can pray for, and people as well. The vast majority of us have family members who can use our prayers. Perhaps a parent going through a difficult physical illness or condition, a sibling having familial or financial or career problems, or a child dealing with some difficulty, even just the normal day-to-day situations involving school and friends.

Even if we have no family, we usually have friends or co-workers going through a situation that could be helped by our prayers. Everything from pregnancy to death, from work to vacation traveling, from physical to financial situations, they can use a prayer to God for help in their situation.

And in the end, if you think that you simply have no one worth praying for, you have yourself. Heck, that alone can be something to pray for: someone that makes you feel strong and close enough to pray for them.

A great way to pray is in a group situation, usually at Church. For instance, in a little over an hour my wonderful wife and I will be joining the good folks of our Saint Christopher’s Church parish community at the noon Catholic Mass service. We will join them in praying formally, such prayers as the ‘Our Father’ and the ‘Apostle’s Creed’, and informal prayers for our individual intentions.

The power of prayer as a community should never be underestimated. Jesus Himself blessed the practice when he said “whenever two or more of you are gathered in my name, there shall I be” and as the song says, there is love.

Of course you can, and should, take time to pray alone each day. I pray every night before going to sleep with a practice that I began almost a year ago.

Each year, I try to stick to a particular New Year’s resolution, and the past few years have had good luck in doing so. My resolution for 2007 was to do something spiritual, because I felt the need to return more strongly to my faith. So I undertook what to me was an interesting project, combining my interests in articles of faith and my own education.

What I did was that I learned to say the Lord’s Prayer, the ‘Our Father’, in Latin. I took one sentence from the prayer and committed it to memory each month, so my ability to say it increased monthly until by the end of 2007, I was able to say the prayer in Latin. Now that is my habit before sleep, to say the Lord’s Pray, ‘Pater Noster‘, in Latin.

While doing so to think over my children and my family, as well as any friends or associates who I know may be facing a particularly difficult situation, and commit these thoughts as prayer intentions.

I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that God hears my prayers, because He has answered them for me in many ways, many times over the years of my life. He doesn’t always say ‘yes’ by the way, and doesn’t always grant those prayers exactly as I requested, but He always answers and I usually have recognized those answers.

No matter what, I accept God’s will as He presents it to me, and continue to pray on a regular basis. You can pray while driving, while at a ball game, while watching TV, while taking a walk, while working, while reading this blog posting.

You should take some time alone, set aside specifically for a couple of minutes of prayerful interaction with God each day. And as we discussed in last Sunday’s entry, you should get yourself to Church and pray with your community on a regular basis.

No matter where, when, how, why, or for whom you may pray, make sure that you do it. The simple thought to yourself of ‘God, please help ______ with _______ ‘ is plenty good enough. And if you are having a hard time right now thinking of something or someone to pray for, toss one my way. I would be honored.

God knows that I need all the prayers that I can get in my life for a variety of reasons and situations. Say a little prayer for me, and may God bless everyone who reads this with increased faith, awareness, and acceptance of Him.