When reviewing the surveys we took a little over a month ago, one request was to learn more about prayer and how to pray. There are many aspects to prayer, so I will do articles on prayer from time to time.
There is no real book that is meant for all, other than the Bible. Prayer, and our life in prayer, is different for every person. God reveals himself to each person in a different way. Most people expect that priests know everything about prayer. But there are things that you know about God that I do not. That is because your relationship with God is different than mine, or anybody else’s. God offers each and every one of us a unique relationship with Him.
But there are some basics that apply to all people. First, what is prayer? Prayer is a communication with God. Most of us might think of prayer as a pious thought or conversation. Prayer does not have to be “holy” in the way we think of it. Prayer is simply revealing to God what is in your heart. You might talk to your neighbor about the Cubs, your grandchildren, school, job or any of the relationships you may have with others. Our Father in heaven is a person, too, that you can talk to about the Cubs, your grandchildren, school, job or any of the relationships you may have with others.
When we pray rote prayers like the Our Father, Hail Mary or any other prayer cards we receive in the mail, the idea is to make those words our own. Those words become a part of who we are. Sometimes, I like to read the prayers that others write because it helps me grow in ways I may not even be aware of. If I do not have a concern for others, the prayer makes me think about others and the care I should have toward them. If I pray for my enemies, I learn to have mercy on them and I become a better person. So praying something that is not me is not hypocrisy, it is a tool that can help me be the person God wants me to be. I suppose that is why so many rote prayers are pious, so that I can actually become pious. The prayer starts to work on me and I grow from it.
Whether it is rote prayer or just a simple conversation with God, prayer is something from the heart, even if it is a struggle to be emotionally involved. Prayer is where grace is. Do not be afraid of what is in your heart or to reveal it to Jesus. When you do reveal it, He takes away all the bad stuff in your mind and heart and gives you more of the good stuff in your mind and heart. He is there to help you, not condemn. So when you are angry, sad or resentful, you can tell Him so that He can heal you. In fact, it is harder to be healed if you do not tell Him.
This is one tip for prayer. I hope this helps. He dispels the bad stuff and gives you more of the good stuff.