Prayer comes in all shapes and sizes. There's something for everyone.
My favorite form of prayer is talking to Christ, His Angels and Saints and the Blessed Mother throughout my day. This isn't something that comes naturally to me, 95% of my day I'm flying under my own power and thinking in hindsight how I could have been more alert, aware, responding to encounters with Sanctifying Grace instead of my own mortal tools.
I find my awareness of God's presence through the day increases when I'm able to hit daily Mass several days a week. The more I'm plugged into the Sacraments, the better I'm able to decrease and allow Him to increase.
When it comes to the prayers of the Saints in the Deposit of Faith, the Rosary, etc., we all have a list of 'go-to' prayers. The nanosecond we are in danger or see danger, the things we are interceding for in our own lives and things people have asked us to join in prayer, prayers of thanksgiving, etc. The Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be, whatever prayers we choose to keep on the tip of our tongue for these occasions can either be said with thoughtfulness and passion about what we are saying or we mouth the words as our mind wanders. It's been my experience that the results of prayer are proportionate to the attention I've given them.
Keeping our mind in prayers we have been saying rote for decades takes discipline. God often rewards our efforts in spite of the distracted way we've asked Him for something, but in my experience, passionate prayers get much more of His attention.
The place where our people have fallen to the practice of distracted prayer is so obvious is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And, I hate to say it, but this spiritual malady seems exclusive to the Novus Ordo.
People who whine about how bored they were in the Latin Rite are sitting in the pews mouthing the words of the Mass mentally check out at the Gloria. They have no idea what's happening in front of them nor are they engaged in it, 99% of them let mortal sins compound in their soul for years if not decades. I'm dumbfounded what profit they think they've gained from the Vatican II wingnut practice of stewing in their mortal sins repeating words like a zombie.
St. Teresa of Avila gives a great overview of the levels of prayer:
In all of her major works—The Life, The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle—St. Teresa explains the practice of prayer. And it is noteworthy that she did not begin to write until she was 47 years old, after her second conversion and when she was already well-versed in the practice of prayer.
The first method is by drawing water from a well by means of a bucket attached to a rope. This is the first stage of prayer and it includes vocal prayer and discursive meditation. The individual is active, exercising the facultiesand reaping what benefit it can through one's own efforts.
The second method of watering a garden is by means of a waterwheel to which dippers are attached. As the wheel is turned, the water is poured into a trough that carries the water to the garden. St. Teresa explains that this stage, in which "the soul begins to recollect itself, borders on the supernatural.
The third type of watering a garden is by irrigation by means of a running stream. It doesn't call for human effort as in the two previous methods. Prayer at this stage is mystical; that is, all the faculties are centered on God. "This kind of prayer," says St. Teresa, "is quite definitely a union of the entire soul with God" (The Life, chap. 17). She calls it a "sleep of the faculties" because they are totally occupied with God. "Not one of them, it seems, ventures to stir, nor can we cause any of them to be active except by striving to fix our attention very carefully on something else, and even then I don't think we could succeed entirely in doing so"
The fourth and final method for watering a garden is by means of falling rain. This stage of prayer is totally mystical, meaning that it is infused by God and is not attained by human effort. It is called the prayer of union, and it admits of varying degrees.
I read St. Teresa's books 25 years ago. It was a lot of reading, some of it dry, but its a spectacular tool for spiritual guidance to the step-by-step ladder of mystically connecting to Christ. The article linked above is a decent/short explanation of content but not the instructions on how to climb the ladder. Like learning how to play golf, learning to climb these levels of prayer seemed like a long procedure. But with practice, you get the point where can just show up, tee off and hit the ball for a hole-in-one.
For those of you who can confess to praying the Mass like a mindless zombie, I'm going to do a post on mystically praying in the Mass in the not too distant future. With God's help, I would hope to bring a few handfuls of you out of finding cheap solace in sappy music and into the power of Christ.
The king who observes it and sees a group of people interested in the nostalgia of frumpy dresses and hats will be in the all-together.