I mentioned that I enjoy praying with the Psalms. In fact I enjoy praying with Scripture. Scripture is good because, not only does it always give us the words that we may need, but it always is the Voice of God speaking to us. Since prayer is not just a one-way conversation (what kind of relationship would that be), we have to let God speak to us; we have to listen. Praying with Scripture is a great way to listen to God.
During the week, I received a message: Emergency Numbers of the Bible:
When you feel sadness, dial John 14
When your friends let you down, dial Psalm 27
In times of sin, dial Psalm 51
When you are worried, dial Matthew 6:19-34
In times of danger, dial Psalm 91
When you feel God is not listening, dial Psalm 139
When your faith needs a shakedown, dial Hebrews 11
When you feel alone and afraid, dial Psalm 23
(to find more just search for “Bible Emergency Numbers”)
Indeed, Scripture is a great way to pray!
I’m also listening to a series of talks by Fr. Larry Richards
and he really likes to emphasize that Christianity is a relationship. We don’t do certain things because we have to. It’s not what we do that makes us Christian; it’s who we are. And we do what we do because of who we are. He also says that Christianity is not a morality code. People don’t come to Jesus because they find his moral law compelling or challenging; Christians follow Jesus’ commands because they are in love with Jesus. Sounds hokey, but are you in love with Jesus? Ultimately that’s all that matters. All the Rosaries in the world won’t get you into Heaven. Knowing and loving Jesus will.
If I asked you how you pray or what prayers work for you, would you simply say that “the Rosary” or “Adoration” works for you or would you say that you just love spending time with the One that you love?
I think we should spend between 30 minutes to an hour of prayer every day. That’s scheduled time of prayer (because we should be in prayer mode all the time). Maybe that seems daunting to you. That’s OK. Here are some suggestions to getting there.
1. Schedule it.
It’s nice to think that we can spontaneously pray whenever, but the reality is that if you don’t schedule it, you won’t do it. Put it in your calendar and stick to your appointment with God.
2. Find a prayer space.
Together with time, we need a separate space. It could be a “prayer corner” in your room, or not – but try to always pray in the same spot. I like my bed or the floor by my bed by the window. In the summer, I like my deck in the morning. It doesn’t have to be an Adoration Chapel. Doesn’t matter where, just have a consistent location. That will help you create this separate time of prayer.
3. Start small.
If 30 minutes seems impossible (it did to me!), start with 5 minutes. I bet if you commit to 5 minutes, you’ll end up praying for 10.
4. Take a moment to quiet yourself.
If it’s breathing or closing your eyes – doesn’t matter how – take a moment. Your mind may not be quiet at first, but this is a good habit to create. You can ask God to allow you into His presence or ask the Holy Spirit to come to your assistance in prayer.
5. Praise Him.
This may not come naturally because we don’t go around praising people (although we do praise people sometimes). But no one is watching you or judging you; in the quiet of your heart praise and bless the Lord. Tell Him that you love Him (or that you want to love Him) and that you want to spend time with Him. That you want to know Him and listen to Him.
6. Say thanks.
Thank God for the little things we take for granted: the beautiful day, the snow, that you woke up this morning, that you have work, your family, a conversation you had. Thank Him for everything.
7. Say sorry.
You can take some time to mentally go through the day or the previous day and ask for Light that you will see the day as God sees and loves it. Then ask for forgiveness for doing what you should not have done. You could try to name specific things, but if you can’t remember specific things, God knows. Eventually, these moments will easily come to mind. Ask God for the Grace to be better tomorrow.
8. Read some Scripture.
Use a missal with the Church’s daily readings, or read a bit from Scripture, maybe something from next Sunday’s Gospel. You can read one or two verses every day as you move through a book of the Bible or you can pick a verse or verses and read the same ones every day for a whole week. There’s something magical about reading the same reading over and over, multiple times and over a period of several days. You’ll find special meaning in Scripture if you read it this way. I prefer to pick a short passage or verse and read it at least twice, with some quiet time in between (and after) so you can listen to God speaking to your heart.
9. Ask for blessings for others.
Ask for blessings for your family, your fellow workers, your friends and anyone who’s asked for your prayers or who needs prayers. You may not even know the names of the people, but God does!
10. Pray for specific intentions.
Here you can go to town: Pray for the sick, for those with addictions, for young people, for those preparing for marriage, for those struggling in their marriages, for those who are dying, those struggling with old age, those who are lonely, children who suffer abuse, refugees and migrants, those struggling with an unwanted pregnancy, those struggling with anger and resentment, those who have died and who will die this day; those who have no one to pray for them.
If you follow these steps, you’ll find that filling 10-15 minutes is not hard at all. You’ll be at 30 minutes before you know it!
Remember that the bottom line is to speak with the God who loves you and with whom we want to be with forever. It’s about relationship. If you’re still working your way up to being in love, tell Him that and ask Him to help you love Him. It’s important to bless Him to say thanks and to ask for forgiveness (and for help to let go of those things we struggle with). It’s also important to pray for others. But most importantly talk to Him. If journaling is your thing, do it that way; if grabbing the guitar and singing a song is your thing, praise Him that way. If reading something from a Saint or spiritual writer is your thing, add that to your scheduled time. And then, of course, add the Rosary, Divine Mercy, Prayer to St. Michael (or your favourite Saint), or any other prayer that you like.
St. Teresa of Avila defined prayer this way: “Prayer is nothing more than spending a long time alone with the one I know loves me.”
Let’s all now go and do exactly that.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: firstname.lastname@example.org