How to Pray
A young adult prays for his vocations. (NTC/Ben Torres)
As vocations director, my number one request of people in the pews is to pray for more vocations. This is not only because asking the Master of the Harvest for more laborers is what Jesus instructed us to do. It is also because our spiritual life as believers is fed by our life of prayer.
Without consistent prayer, we have little to no spiritual life.
I have noticed that many want to pray but either find themselves too busy or even don’t really know how to pray. Below are very simple instructions I’ve given to my students at Nolan Catholic High School based on what I’ve learned from many priests in and outside of seminary.
First and Only Rule
Show up and spend time: either in the chapel, most especially during Adoration, or in a space set aside in your house.
How to Pray: Petition, Talking, Listening, Resting
Petition. Lord, I offer up this prayer time for Cynthia. Jesus, please take care of Mark’s family. Lord, please help me get through this week. Lord, please calm my anxiety about my tests, my parents, my children, my fear of the future. Lord, please send us more good and holy priests for our diocese.
Talking. Lord, what am I doing here? Lord, I don’t know how to pray. Lord, this is weird. Jesus, help me pray. Who are you? Jesus, I am super nervous and anxious about my job and school, please help me.
Listening. Option 1: Pick up a Bible and read a small section. Read it again. Whatever line pops out at you, even slightly, read again and again and think over it in your mind. Allow your soul to listen to it.
Don’t try to wrestle with it, just listen to it, and allow God to move (sometimes imperceptibly) in your heart. If you feel nothing, perceive nothing, hear nothing, that is okay. Spend 10 to 15 minutes on this exercise.
Option 2: Literally listen to the silence of the space. Allow yourself to simply become more aware of the space around you and try to focus that attention on Jesus’ presence.
There is no goal or agenda here. Simply, you are becoming more aware of the Lord’s presence and putting your focus on Him.
Resting. Option 1: the Jesus prayer. Calm yourself down with some deep breathing. Repeat the name of Jesus slowly and with each breath. This focuses your attention on Jesus; helps get your mind off your stresses; and allows you to place your trust in Him. Ancient monks would sometimes do this for the entire hour. You are free to do so. The Rosary is also a powerful prayer where we restfully meditate on the life of our Lord.
Option 2: Show up to the prayer space and if you fall asleep, don’t worry! If you are super tired, if you are fighting to stay awake in your prayer time, if coffee has not worked, just allow yourself to fall asleep. You still showed up to be with the Lord, and He can still work in your soul.
“I should be distressed that I drop off to sleep during my prayers and during my thanksgiving after Holy Communion. But I don’t feel at all distressed. I know that children are just as dear to their parents, whether they are asleep or awake, and I know that doctors put their patients to sleep before they operate. So I just think that God ‘knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.'”
-St. Therese of Lisieux
vocations, pray for vocations, Master of the Harvest, spiritual life, believers, life of prayer, how to pray, prayer for beginners, trending-english