If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
Dispositions for Praying Well
1. Know You’re Not Alone. Sometimes it seems like we are talking to the wall or ceiling when we pray and not to the God of the universe. This can be a common temptation to stop praying. The good news is that you’re not alone! In fact, your desire to pray is a result of God’s invitation to you. It’s an invitation, whether you recognize it or not, that you received at your baptism when you became an adopted son or daughter of God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says it best: “God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response.” Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2567
2. Our God is Relational. Ask yourself: “Do I believe that God is relational?” That is, do you believe that God is not some abstract deity that floats above and smites whomever, whenever? Instead, do you believe that God is a Father to all humanity in general AND to you in particular? God chose you, God calls you, God wants you to live in an intimate and unceasing union with him. A relationship with God is possible, but it will take work.
3. God Wants This Too. God calls us first, not because he has some obligation to call us but because he genuinely wants to live in communion with you. He has big plans for each of us; not plans for woe or misery, but “plans for welfare…, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
4. God Speaks in Silence. God does not speak to us as we would prefer, maybe via text message or on Twitter. (BTW, here’s mine). God speaks the language of silence, which is not a medium through which most of us are used to communicating. Just like learning French or Spanish, learning to communicate with God takes time and a lot of patience. He speaks to us in the deepest part of our being, a place not many of us are prone to go without a good reason, and even then there is often fear and discomfort. But that’s where he speaks and that’s where he waits. Ask and he’ll give you the courage to go there.
5. God is Love. It’s as simple as that. His voice will always bring peace, never discord. Beware, however, as his voice might cause irritation in your heart as areas of struggle are addressed by the Father. But no matter what: God always loves you and wants to show you the truth about himself and about yourself….suffer the coming of the truth (and the Truth) into your life and you will be well. Remember, Christ reveals us to ourselves in our fullness (cf Col 3:3).
Necessary Materials for a Good Holy Hour
- A bible: For prayer, I use the New Jerusalem Bible but I also recommend the New American Bible (NAB) or the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Version (RSV).
- Prayer Journal: I love my moleskine journal but anything will do. You just need a place to jot down your thoughts and record what the Lord is doing for you and saying to you in prayer. Bring a pen, too.
- YOUR OPEN HEART: Need I say more?
- Spiritual Reading: A book by or about one of the saints or other spiritual classics. Good places to start include the Confessions by St. Augustine, Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Salles, or The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. If you’re discerning priesthood, I recommend To Save a Thousand Souls by Fr. Brett Brannen or Priests for the Third Millennium by Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
- Rosary: Let this devotion lead you into a prayerful state of mind as you contemplate the mystery’s of Christ’s life, but don’t let it consume your entire holy hour.
- Breviary: Same as the rosary; use the Liturgy of the Hours as a springboard to contemplation not as a replacement for it.
Methods of Prayer
But really, I think it should be CSAT: Contrition (express sorrow for sins), Supplication (Make prayers of intercession, vocal prayer to the Lord), Adoration (read from the Scriptures, let the Word of God run over you, sit in God’s presence learning his language of silence), and then Thanksgiving (for gifts received, for people, for your life, etc).
2. Pray Like a Pirate: ARRR
This one is from the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska.
Acknowledge: How am I feeling, what am I bringing to prayer? What word or phrase struck me in my chosen scripture passage for this holy hour?
Relate: Tell the Lord, in as much detail as necessary, what you’ve just acknowledged within yourself. Relate everything to him.
Receive: Sit with the Lord in silence and adoration, receiving from him all of the graces he wishes to bestow on you. Listen to his voice: what is he saying? This will take time, practice, and patience!
Respond: Make resolutions for the future, always trusting in God’s loving guidance. Speak to the Lord about what you’ve just received, write down some things in your prayer journal.
More coming soon.