This may seem obvious. Vocal is just prayer that you say right? Well the vast majority of souls will stay at the level of vocal prayer for their entire life. Since prayer is just a communicative relationship with God then to stay at one level of prayer means we are not progressing deeper in our relationship. This could be due to the fact that we aren't putting enough thought into our vocal prayer. If we desire to move beyond the "Vocal prayer" stage of our relationship and grow in holiness then we need to follow these rules:
1. It is prayer not recitation. This means we are lifting our minds to God. Before saying your prayer recollect yourself and place your heart in the presence of God.
2. Pay attention to the words you say. Ok this is obvious but how many times have you read an entire page of a book and realized you didnt pay any attention to what you were reading.
3. Go slow! Pause often. A good way to practice this is to pray the Our Father and try to take 2 to 3 minutes for one prayer. This will be awful at first but it will help us to be deliberate in our vocal prayer.
4. Unite vocal prayer to mental prayer. This is from St. Teresa of Avila. She explains it thus: "If while I am speaking with God, I have a clear realization that I am doing so, and if this is more real to me than the words I am uttering, then I am uniting mental prayer to vocal prayer."
5. Be docile to the Holy Spirit and not enslaved to the written words. This is obviously not the case when it comes to liturgical prayer but when you are just having a personal prayer time let the Holy Spirit guide you. If you feel an insight or you feel the Lord leading you into some strain of meditation dont worry about getting the prayer finished just go with the meditation. When you get distracted or it ends just go back to your prayer.
Engage the prayer. Put your whole heart into it. Let each prayer be a love story to Jesus. Let each request be from a begger to a king. Let each word of praise be from a small insignificant being to the greatness of the creator. If you do this with your whole heart then soon your Lover will lead you into a form of communication too deep for words...
Dave VanVickle is a Catholic speaker and writer focusing on the Universal Call to Holiness and Authentic Catholic Spirituality. He is currently employed as the Director of Evangelization for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Wexford, PA.