"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinful man Amen. Pater Noster... etc"
This is usually what I pray on my knees in Latin each night before I go to bed. My prayer life has changed alot in my life. I started off with what I was taught to call "Fire-engine God" prayers. When I really needed something I'd quickly say a prayer. My first real prayer was at the age of 5 when I asked God to make my hair brown. I had almost white blond hair, and now I have blond hair. It was either a miracle or an inherited gene from my father, who too had blond hair as a child which later turned brown. I've have had actual miraculous answers to prayer as well though. After a nightmarish trip to England for bible school I was stuck in a train station without a place to sleep unless someone answered a phone and I'd called them about 4 times, I was furious about having to leave my girlfriend and friends at home to go to this bible school, etc. I prayed one of the angriest prayers I've ever prayed. I told God that if this woman didn't answer the phone I would never pray again. On the last ring the woman picked up the phone and I loudly said "Fuck". Partly because at the time I didn't want to have much to do with God, I was basically a Deist or an Angry Theist.
Anyway, that used to be the climax of my testimony. The point is, I've had angry prayers and miraculous prayers and that story blended them into one, or was supposed to at least.
I've been praying liturgical prayers alot lately which has been the change since my Anglican days last August. As a child I was never made to memorize a single prayer (except the God is great, God is Good dinner prayer). I was even told that praying the Lord's Prayer corporately was "babbling like the pagans" and that Jesus never intended us to pray it. But now I've been praying it alot as well as the Ave Maria, and Jesus Prayer and some Psalms, as well as my Rosary.
The biggest problem I've had recently is remembering that God is 3 loving persons who actually want to hear me, even though it goes against all my recent experience and feelings. My priest was giving a sermon the other day and asked about our views of God and he went through a bunch of different views, and mine was the Greek God who doesn't care about humans and who frustrates their purposes for enjoyment. It's a very cynical view that I've developed and am trying to fix. Here's an interesting Q & A I saw from an English Catholic parish website under the heading of Rosary (http://www.saintfelix.org.uk/QandA.html)
"Q: Must we do the prayers exactly the way they are written?
A: No. God is not a legalist. The Rosary is not a magic formula. God answers our prayers because He loves us and the people for whom we are praying, and because what we ask for is good and in line with His promises in Scripture, not because we do a Rosary. If you want to add some of your own, extra prayers to the Rosary, let yourself be moved by the Holy Spirit and add those prayers!"
A guy once told me that the Westminster confession even labels prayer as a sacrament and means of grace. I don't know if it says that or not, but if it does, I think in some ways it is correct. Prayer is in many ways the most important practice in Christianity. If Salvation is about who you know and not what you've done then I assume prayer is the main way we relate to God. Not really very profound but still...
Anyway I was watching Bill Maher today and he said something that really caught my attention. For those of you who don't know, Bill Maher just made a film mocking religion called "religulous" (I think that's how it's spelled). Anyway, Chris Matthews asked him if he was on a plane about to crash whether he would pray or not. Bill Maher said, "I hope not, I can't know unless it happened, but do you think in one minute I'd have enough time to make it up to Jesus for all I've done? (laughter)". I immediately thought of John Bunyan's quote about the best prayers being more groans than words. I thought about it for about a day - "would Jesus forgive Bill Maher in one minute of repentance for a lifetime of sin" and part of me thought "no". But part of me thought, if someone hated me their whole life and then apologized, would I forgive them. And not to be prideful, but I think I would. Then I remembered the Thief on the Cross, and remembered how incredibly forgiving God is, and how salvic prayer really is.