Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Prayer: Get on Your Knees and Do It

     This is a link to a blog post about the 7 reasons you sometimes stink at praying.  When examining the list I was suddenly all too aware that most if not all of these applied to me.  Pausing to think about when do I pray and is it a set time or is God squeezed into my day.  How many excuses do I have and hmm why bother I am sure God has heard them all (The dog ate my prayerbook probably won't work)  So take a moment and read these 7 reasons and see how many apply to you.  Then reflect on that and examine your day, is there time to pray, how many excuses are you making.  I know that I myself have many different ones.  My tendency is to pray late at night and I fall asleep before I get too far into my prayers.  Anyways here is the link take a moment and reflect and then a short description of what prayer is will follow

7 Reasons I Stink at Praying

     So prayer - we all do it, most of the time when we are in need of something or want something from God.  Maybe when we are thanking him for something received.  How often do you pray just to pray.  Sit down, kneel down, lay down or whatever position strikes your fancy and talk to God, let Him know that you are there and that you are interested in his input. 
"For me prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy."  St. Therese of Lisieux

     When we go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church we hear that prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.  (CCC 2559)   How easy it can be to request things from God but never lift our mind and hear to him.  I am as guilty of this as are most people, it is natural throughout the day to request things from God.  Please let this light turn, this traffic to end, this meeting to go well, help me stay awake in class, help me get through______God.  A lot of times there isn't time for anything else in the hustle and bustle of today's working world.  However, when you get home and your day has winded down, the kids are in bed and whatnot (by no means do I easily dismiss the awesome responsibility and work it is to be a parent).  But when the day is done do you lift your mind and heart to God and thank you for those things that went well and for those things that did not.  There is a great quote from the movie Facing the Giants: 
"I want God to bless this team so much people will talk about what He did. But it means we gotta give Him our best in every area. And if we win, we praise Him. And if we lose, we praise Him. Either way we honor Him with our actions and our attitudes. So I'm askin' you... What are you living for? I resolve to give God everything I've got, then I'll leave the results up to Him. I want to know if you'll join me."
While this applies to many different things, prayer is one of them.  Do you take the time to thank God for the day for what went right and what went wrong.  Then the wisdom to maybe see that God had you exactly where you needed to be that day whether it seemed like things were going right or wrong at the time.  When we pray the Catechism tells us it must be from a humble and contrite heart.  "He who humbles himself will be exalted, humility is the foundation of prayer.  Only when we humbly acknowledge that we do not know how to pray as we ought are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer.  Man is a beggar before God."  (CCC 2559)  Throughout all of this it needs to be remembered that God has called us first, He desires this relationship.  God gradually reveals himself to us and prayer is our reciprocal to that revealing from God.

     For those who seem to have trouble organizing their prayer life or prayer time there are many aids including the Liturgy of the Hours and other daily prayer books.  There is also the idea of doing it early, and getting it done.  I don't mean this to say that you should rush through prayer or that the morning is the only time that you should pray.  However, this is time that you set aside for God and dedicate it solely to Him.

     During this time of prayer I would propose that there are four moments that occur within the one movement that is prayer.  Thanksgiving, Adoration, Petition, and Sorrow.  First you thank God for the day for whatever is going well and possibly for things that didn't go your way that you know see the reasons why.  Then you praise and adore Him, he is God and deserves our praise and adoration.  Then ask him for what you need, be honest, be open, be sincere, he already knows what you are going to ask Him, so don't hold back.  Finally tell him your sorry and that you will resolve to do better.  Prayer, like the Mass is one of the lifebloods that helps us maintain our relationship with God and to grow that relationship.

     The Catechism lays out for us five different kinds of prayer.  Blessing and Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Thanksgiving and Praise.  (CCC 2626-2649)  Take some time and read about each type of prayer and understand what is distinct about each.  The only one that I would like to mention in specific is that of Prayer of Intercession.  Mary and her prayers of intercession bookend the public ministry of Jesus Christ.  At Cana and at the Cross.  At the Marriage at Cana she intercedes for the needs of the wedding feast.  Then again Mary is present at the Crucifixion when the lamb sacrifices His body and blood at the request of the bride, here Mary becomes the "Mother of all living" and when she is is in heaven, our intercessor who always has the ear of her Son.

     Thus I have two challanges to give.  The first is related to intercession.  Many times we go around and tell people we will pray for them.  How many times do you actually pray for them beyond that moment.  Make the point to pray for those whom you promise to pray for.  This challange of intercession is to everyone including myself, make the time to intercede on behalf of those who have asked it of you.  Second reflect on the seven points brought up in the link and try to pick one and focus on making that aspect of your prayer life better for a week/month.  We are constantly working to improve our prayer lives and we need to encourage and help each other.  For as Proverbs 27:17 says "Iron sharpens iron, and one man[woman] sharpens another."

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog Jonathan! I would like to add that it is also a good practice to thank the Lord for little things as you go about your day. For instance, just a short "thank you Lord" when you are able to go to the faucet to get a drink of water whenever you are thirsty. Not everyone has this luxury,or for the heat we have in the winter and the cooling we have in the summer. The jobs we have that earn the money to put food on our tables and so on, and especially at night when you get in a warm, comfortable bed. Once you start this, you will find it comes automatically and keeps us in "constant prayer".
    I also love the Divine Mercy Holy Hour at 3:00PM daily. It should be offered in memory of Our Saviour's Passion, and in particular of His prayer and agony in the Garden of Gethsemani.