Prayer Styles, Temperament, And Our Relationship With God

Prayer Styles

The Prayer Project conducted in 1982, brought participants from the United States, Canada, and Australia, together to test the theory that different forms of prayer, temperaments, and personality types tied in to how a person relates with God.

You, who became human through a woman, grant to all mothers the courage they need to face the uncertain future that life with children always brings. Give them the strength to live and to be loved in return, not perfectly, but humanly. -part of a Mother’s Day prayer – Xavier University Jesuit 


Emotional Factor: Sensing-feeling 

Franciscan’s personalities can be characterized as sociable, friendly, and people orientated. They are very sensitive to others’ feelings as well as their own. They prefer to deal with things that directly affect people’s lives instead of impersonal facts and theories.

God Factor: Affirming

Franciscan’s spirituality is optimistic and sees the beauty of God everywhere. This spirituality appeals to those who want to do things for others.

Prayer: Optimistic

A Franciscan’s prayer is a petition to God that we might live up to the true way of being in the world that God intends for the human family. 


Emotional Factor: Intellectual Curiosity

Thomistics are more theoretical, intellectually curious, and knowledge-oriented. They prefer to be challenged intellectually and to think things out for themselves. They have a tolerance for theory, like complex problems, and are concerned about long-range consequences

God Factor: Knowledge-oriented.

Aquinas wrote most extensively about natural law. He stated, “the light of reason is placed by nature [and thus by God] in every man to guide him in his acts.” Therefore, human beings, alone among God’s creatures, use reason to lead their lives. For him, prayer is a seeking for God.

Prayer Factor: Security

Saint Thomas said that prayer should be: confident, considered, suitable, devout, and humble. He saw prayer as having three aspects.

  • First, prayer is an effective and useful remedy against evils. 

  • Then, prayer is effective and useful to obtain all that one desires.

  • And finally, prayer is profitable because it makes us friends of God.


Emotional Factor: Intuitive-feeling

 Augustinian personalities are creative and imaginative. They think visually to help them see situations and possible outcomes. They can become immersed in the emotions and situations in stories and prayer.

God Factor: Conversations with God

Augustinians, prayer is conversational, they use symbols and poetic images. They like to keep a journal of insights and dreams to understand the developing patterns, to help with that process of interpretation of intuitions and inspirations seriously.

Prayer Factor: Refuge

According to St. Augustine, we need not pray for what we need because God already knows what we need before we even ask. Instead, we ought to pray, he suggests, to increase our desire for God, and so that we might be able to receive what He is preparing to give us.

For Augustine, prayer consisted of four elements: 

  • Adoration/Blessing,
  • Contrition/Repentance, 
  • Thanksgiving/Gratitude
  • Supplication/Petition/Intercession.


Emotional Factor: Perspective

Those who are Ignatian in their spirituality are realistic, practical, and matter-of-fact. They are efficient and results orientated. They have a high-energy level for doing things that are pragmatic, logical, and useful.

God Factor: Discerning God’s Will

Ignatian Contemplation is “prayer with Scripture”. Meeting God through His story. The prayer develops as you “live into” a Scripture story with all your senses and imagination. You become a participant in the story, and you continue in the story in your heart, mind, imagination, spirit, and body after the reading ends.

Prayer Factor: Knowing

 Ignatian, discernment, and prayer involve weighing facts and feelings to determine the best choices, which ultimately lead to the best fit.

When in prayer or discernment focus on these steps :

  • identifying the issue
  • taking time to pray about the choice
  • making a wholehearted decision
  • discussing the choice with a friend/mentor/spiritual director
  • finally trusting that with God, the decision was made.