Just sharing a prayer tip from one mediocre Christian to another, particularly those who regret they don’t pray enough.
We Catholics like organization, and our Catechism groups prayer into five categories: Blessing/Adoration, Petition (help for ourselves), Intercession (help for others), Thanksgiving and Praise. I have seen other types listed elsewhere, the two most common being prayers of Penitence and prayers of Oblation (offering oneself to God).
I sometimes offer a prayer that does not seem to easily fit into one of these forms. This is the prayer of the busy, the distracted or the tired mind. It’s the spoken, rote prayer when you can’t form any mental purpose or dip into contemplation. You might call it donative prayer. It is perhaps the lowest form of prayer, but some days it’s the only kind I say. Arguably it may fit into the Oblation category. Oblation does apparently derive from a Latin word meaning “to offer.”
It’s the Our Father I might say while waiting for the red light to change, or a series of Hail Marys you pray while stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on a bridge. If you are me, you might discretely cover your mouth with your hand so that the person looking at you in their rear view mirror doesn’t think you are talking to yourself, or to them (I worry about such things). It’s the Glory Be you recite for no specific reason as you nod off to sleep.
I can’t say that this prayer meets the criteria of any of the listed categories. I speak them without a purpose in mind. I am not asking for anything, and am not consciously thanking or praising God in any way, or even offering something up to Him. Sometimes I am just in a bad mood and would rather recite a prayer from memory than do anything else.
I would like to think that I am donating the prayer to God, the prayer treasury of the Church, and the Communion of Saints to use as they will, for whatever pleases them. I am donating a speck of my time and will, if nothing else. It beats listening to talk radio… right?
2 responses to “Donative Prayer: Speaking to God in the margins of the day”
I can really relate to this. There are often days when I just don’t know what to pray, and yes, anything is better than talk radio! Thanks!
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Thanks for your comment. Its mostly vanity speaking in this reply, but its rather nice having a lot of those time wasting love/hate interests like sports and talk radio pruned away. My radio is glued to Sirius Symphony, even though I know nothing about music.