Prayer is about . . .(what do you think?)

Here are some answers:

It’s about God because we need to praise Him (He doesn’t need our praise, but we build our attitude of gratitude when we praise Him.)  Oh, wait, who needs to praise him?  WE do!  Okay, about us!

It’s about saying we are sorry for the day’s sins (or getting a head start on apologies before we rush into the day and forget God!).  Hmm, that’s still about us!

 

It’s about interceding for the people around us.  Okay, that might be about others, but it makes you feel good!  Almost holy!

It’s about interceding for those in faraway places facing known and unknown problems (like natural disasters, poverty, disease, etc.).  Hmm, same as the one before, it’s about others, but it makes us feel good.

It’s about the clergy, that God gives them strength, joy, holiness . . wait, that’s about us, too!  No clergy, no Body of Christ in the Eucharist!  

It’s about civil authority, that God helps them to make decisions that are good for all.  Hmmmm.  That’s about US, too.

Uh-oh!  Are you feeling like prayer is selfish and unselfish at the same time?   Possibly, the best answer is prayer is about those here on Earth trying to live out our lives in accordance with God’s purpose for us!

At the surface, prayer seems to be about us (you can substitute “me” for all the us if you really want to make this personal!!  After spending time in prayer, God will shout out WRONG in your soul!  In prayer, God helps you to become His worker here on Earth and even helps you to become like Him (at least in some ways! – according to your heart’s willingness).  In prayer, others can be protected from harm.  For example, Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote: “Never have I felt the need to protect you so keenly with my prayers.” to the novice with whom she had been partnered (The Spiritual Doctrine of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Newman Press, 1951, p. 28)  Later, the priest reviewing her writings helps us understand that holiness comes from prayer which teaches us to deny ourselves and seek to be one with God (p. 33).  Prayer is really about the whole community of saints as well as our relationship with God, who made us.

So really, prayer IS about you, and in a better way than the world would say it is about you!  Learning to sacrifice self and to be one with God can only bring you much joy and happiness, and if not here, most certainly in heaven.  Which place lasts longer is the next question to ask, right!?

The real answer then is we may not be spending sufficient time in prayer.  Yet, we must not mortify ourselves, and we must realize that God is outside time, and He will seek us more than we seek Him, according to St. John of the Cross. Not praying as much as you can is a scary thought, when you consider that our job here is to fulfill His plan for our arrival in heaven.  So, to maximize prayer for those of us who are not dedicated to prayer in a contemplative religious order such as the Carmelites, God must be invited into our every action.  As St. Teresa of Avila noted, God is in the pots and pans.  St. Therese of Lisieux noted that He was there in the splashes that she received from a careless fellow handkerchief washing nun.  He is there in the struggles just to walk around as St. Elizabeth of the Trinity discovered.  If He was invited into those situations, we can invite Him into our situations, too!

Again,  prayer is about you, AND your relationship with God and others.  Maybe the lack of prayer in our modern world has contributed to the lack of connection between people and the horrible acts of violence that we see perpetrated against entire communities.  How can we combat loneliness and crimes against humanity if people think prayer is just about them, and they don’t have time?  Some people have tried prayer, and since no changes were immediately seen in themselves or around them, they came to believe that prayer was useless.  They believe that they need to see something as the fruit of their prayer, for it to be worth their time.  Other people think that prayer should be more fun, and that being quiet is too difficult. Sometimes, it’s not the “should be fun” trend, rather,  people think that prayer is too difficult, because they have too many thoughts running around in their heads.  Should we criticize people and condemn them for their attitudes that keep them from praying?  In our hearts, we know not to judge.  How can we go a step towards people who are having trouble with prayer?  Please feel welcome to comment below!

If you are reading this and do not have a prayer life, or wish to deepen the prayer life you have, know that ANY way which helps you have a greater intentionality to prayer can help you persevere in prayer.  You may not wish at first to become a prayer warrior, and you must not give up because you do not wish to spend lots of time in prayer or even feel up to praying for someone else!  God will meet you wherever you are and He will make wonderful transformations in your life happen with whatever you give to Him.  Prayer is being recognized as a key ingredient in being positive, and a positive attitude alone yields great benefits in your here and now.  Prayer can be just a few steps:Ask for the Holy Spirit to keep you safe and guide you.

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you safe and guide you.
  2. Read a holy book (the Bible is a great start!) for the time you have.
  3. Pause and reflect on what you have read.
  4. Write down any questions you have or thoughts that come to you
  5. Seek guidance from someone ahead of you in prayer if you feel you need it. Although it is not the purpose of Confession, many priests give wonderful guidance on your prayer life as time allows.

If you find that getting quiet is difficult for any reason, instead of writing, try doodling, drawing or coloring to help you leave your worried self and go to the place of silence within where we listen to God, which is a very important part of prayer.  

Some people go beyond writing the thoughts and questions that come to them in silence and they set aside a time to write in a journal, and that is certainly what St. Teresa of Avila did, in a way, as she wrote about her life and the foundings of the convents.  You will find a journal to be a helpful practice to celebrate any progress you make!  Remember, it takes about 20 days to form a habit, so be persistent and consistent in your prayer.  Pick a time and a place.  It could be your car before you go inside to work!  Tell your favorite place and strategy for prayer in teh comments.

Since prayer is both about you and about others, and affects your eternal life, please do whatever it takes to find a way to pray that works for you and places you in God’s hands for the time that your station in life allows.  

Try Coloring and Prayer!

Medit 16 ref

Get coloring hints and the first meditation and its drawing from the first book, Coloring Meditations for a Full Life to begin a more focused prayer life.

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