Behind-the-scenes prayer

North Texas Catholic
(Jan 1, 2024) Faith-Inspiration

Adoration following a Young Adult Evening of Reflection on Sunday, December 10, 2023 at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in North Richland Hills. (NTC/Kevin Bartram)

In 2015, an ice storm swept across North Texas. Because everything was closed, my parents and I decided to have an impromptu dance party in our kitchen. We posted the dance video on Facebook to share with our family and friends, and it ended up going viral! The video got seven million views in five days.

When people see the video, they see this one viral moment and think “I want that…” but what they don’t see is the 24 years of behind-the-scenes relationship building it took with my parents to get there. 

It took time to learn how to trust my parents, how to receive love from them, and how to fight and reconcile. What you don’t see is all the behind-the-scenes work it’s taken to learn what it means to be in a relationship with my dad.

Fast forward to November of 2023. I was able to go to the National Catholic Youth Conference held in Indianapolis with around 12,000 youth and adult chaperones in attendance. It was amazing to see how much joy filled one place. The whole event was geared to inviting the attendees into a deeper (or maybe for the first time!) relationship with God. While the weekend was amazing, I couldn’t help but notice that this all felt like a viral moment. An amazing couple of days together, full of joy and hype, but what happens when we all leave?

This is where personal prayer comes into play. A daily, lived prayer life is important because it was important to Jesus. Scripture describes many instances of Jesus going off by Himself to pray, and it was in those moments that He learned how to be in relationship with His Father. 

Jesus’ life is a model for us. The disciples didn’t ask Jesus to show them how to perform miracles or how to do great works, but they did ask Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11). If it was important for Jesus, then it should be important to me. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Great is the mystery of faith! … This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer” (CCC 2558). Having a prayer life doesn’t enhance your relationship with God. Prayer is your relationship with God. In your prayer, you come to know who you are and who God is. 

I learned how to have a daily prayer life when I was a missionary with NET Ministries, and I want to end with some practical tips on starting a prayer life. 

Start with when. Make a plan for the week of when you’ll take some extra time to meet God. I have my prayer time right when I wake up in the morning. Stick with that time for an entire week. 

Next is where. Have a space where you live that’s solely dedicated to communicating with God. I have a prayer closet that’s filled with images, candles, prayers that I know when I step inside here, this space is different. It doesn’t have to be fancy! Just a place set apart.

And finally, what will you pray with? If you’re just starting, I suggest beginning by reading the daily readings of the Mass. Read them slowly and see what sticks out to you. Write down anything that sticks out to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you and show you what He’s trying to communicate with you. 

Friends, a daily prayer life isn’t just an add-on but is necessary for the life of a disciple. Everything we do should be the fruit of our prayer life, not the other way around. My own prayer for you is that you start today, start small, and see how much your world will change.

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