Prayer is a matter of the heart. It is not about thinking much but about loving much (and really, at the heart of it, it’s about being loved much!). Prayer is being present to the Lord who is always present to me. Very very often I do not realise this but the Lord is there always. Often, I am unplugged but the Lord is not … he loves me, he cares for me, he desires that I receive his love.
So prayer is becoming aware of his presence and being in his presence.
So, on the one hand, this is really easy … but it is also very difficult because we are so easily distracted. I want to share some practical tips for prayer:
- Keep it simple … pray as you can as long as you do pray. It is not that one prayer is better than another. Whatever helps you pray is good!
- Set aside some time per day to pray – 10 or 15 minutes – and stick to it. Never be tempted to spend less time than you have in mind. Be constant every day and persevere – even if you find it hard sometimes. If one day you don’t manage start afresh as soon as possible.
- Find a comfortable place to pray. It should be a place where you are not easily distracted and a place which you associate with prayer. It could be an adoration chapel. Or maybe a corner in your bedroom can be arranged with some image or a candle or a rosary to help you remember that you are in the presence of God. Go there for your prayer time, make yourself comfortable and just pray.
- Do not expect to feel always the same way. Sometimes it feels very good to pray, at other times you feel dry or empty. Sometimes you feel guilty or far from God. Don’t let this worry you. Just spend time in prayer to receive the embrace of the Lord. If you don’t feel good, it does not mean that you are not praying. Praying is always worthwhile no matter what you feel! God is at work always doing good to you.
- What you do during a time of prayer can vary. Maybe you can go through your day in your imagination and thank the Lord for various blessings. You can also ask the Lord what he has been trying to tell you that day – maybe through a word or a circumstance. The Lord does speak but we find it hard to listen sometimes. You can also start praying by saying an Our Father or a Hail Mary slowly. You can also take a spiritual book and read a paragraph or two and pray about it. You can pray with the Bible, taking a reading from sacred space or pray as you go. You can do all of this. Do always spend some moments speaking to Jesus and trying to understand what he wants to tell you.
- Finally, especially if you have some difficulty, ask someone who can answer your question. Someone who prays and whom you can trust. Even, if you’re doing well, it is good to talk and share. We’ll speak later of what has been called ‘spiritual direction’.
Try it!!! You’ll be surprised about how it changes your heart!! God bless you as you try … I am praying for you.
Authored by Fr Mark Sultana – [email protected]