Formal (vocal) prayer vs personal (mental) prayer
From an old post, never answered:
Quote:      Catholics have no problem embracing both personal, "from the heart," prayer and formal written or repetitious prayer. I am a champ at going through formal prayer, sometimes rotely I am afraid. My question is how much time should one donate to personal prayer? Without excluding formal prayer, is personal prayer more important? Kind of like the foundation of a house?

'Formal' prayer, usually referred to as 'vocal' prayer is important, but 'personal' prayer, i.e. is mental prayer is as important if not more so. I am a Carmelite Tertiary, and whilst we are supposed to say the Little Office and the Rosary every day, we are also supposed to spend at least half an hour a day in personal/mental prayer.

To call it the foundation of a house is quite apt!

The two must feed each other in an ever-ascending spiral until contemplative prayer is reached. Vocal prayer often provides a wonderful springboard into mental prayer, and mental prayer must find a regular rhythm in vocal prayer, especially liturgical prayer. St. Teresa of Avila says that there can be no true vocal prayer without mental prayer simultaneously being involved (see The Way of Perfection; e.g. we cannot pronounce "Our Father" without our hearts immediately producing profound sentiments of love, piety, confidence, gratitude, humility, etc.); otherwise one is simply saying words devoid of contact with God.

Vocal prayer remains used throughout the entire spiritual life even in the contemplative stages (but mental prayer is not, for eventually, mental prayer is replaced by predominantly contemplative prayer although sometimes the contemplative must revert back to some form of mental prayer, usually affective prayer where the heart predominates and the mind is mostly silent or focused on one affection or thought). This is the opinion of the major 20th century spiritual theologians who synthesized the Western traditions of spirituality on the prayer life, especially the teachings of the Carmelite and Dominican traditions.
If you are thinking about what you are saying while you are praying vocally then you are practicing mental prayer according to St Theresa of Avila.
:) :) :)
I usually say a mental prayer of my intentions, followed by vocal prescribed prayers like the Hail Mary or Our Father

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