3 ways to pray: with our lips (vocal prayer), with our mind (meditation, “mental prayer”), & with our hearts (contemplation, silent prayer).

Carl McColman


We often think of praying as talking aloud to God. Carl reminds us that prayer is a conversation with God. During prayer try both speaking and listening to God.

Vocal prayer is talking aloud to God. We do this when we are alone. We do this with our church community. We might pray for ourselves and or others. We might praise Him for the wonderful events that have occurred in our life. We might lament because we have experienced traumatizing situations.

Mental prayer or meditation is performed both quietly and aloud. We might read a bible verse, poem or other piece of literature. We then ponder and reflect on what we have just read. What is God trying to tell us?

When we are done speaking both mentally and vocally, it is time to be silent. We move into contemplation. We sit still and quiet our mind. If sitting still is difficult for you, take a walk. It is now time to listen to God. Don’t be disappointed if nothing seems to happen. That is ok. During other times of listening you might experience peace, joy, excitement, warmth or a feeling of being physically touched. Perhaps you will receive some much needed insight. Allow yourself to be surprised by what God does or reveals to you.

The next time you pray try this. Don’t just talk to God. Take the time to listen to Him. Enjoy your conversation.


Rich is a member of the United Church of Christ in Warminster, Pa. He is co chair of their Love Thy Neighbor program, a program that assists those in the community that need rental, utility and grocery bill assistance. Rich runs a monthly prayer and praise gathering that discusses a topic related to prayer and allows anyone to share and listen to prayers by all attendees.