Most people struggle with prayer. I did for a long time and having come a long way, I still do, wanting to get better, wanting to connect in a more meaningful way to God.
There are numerous ways to pray and an endless number of books on how to do it. Acronyms are employed as reminders, i.e. ACTS…Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. There’s rote prayer, praying through Scripture, i.e. Lectio Divina, meditation, contemplative, etc.
In reading my book or blogs, you know that the only way to lead a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment is to say “yes” to Jesus Christ and living the will of God. To know God’s will means that we need to be in relationship with Him. That relationship exists in the Sacraments and in prayer.
Keeping it simple, I advocate three types of prayer. Now please don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to be doing all three in one sitting or even every day. Like with anything new (if it is new to you), you can start slowly and build from there. I do all three mostly every day, which I’ll explain below. With the way I do them, none are a heavy lift. The three include:
- Reading Scripture
- Rote Prayer
- Daily Dialogue with God
There’s an expression that I like to quote in my talks, “it’s one thing to know the Bible, it’s another to know its Author”. The only way to get to know God the Father, Jesus Christ our Savior, and the Holy Spirit who dwells within each of us, is to read Scripture.
I go to Mass daily, so I’m hearing the readings, which come from Scripture during the Mass. In getting to Mass early, I read the Scripture readings ahead of time, meditating on one prior to Mass. When meditating, I think of two things:
- What would I do if I were part of the circumstances at the time?
- How is it relevant in my life today?
If you aren’t a daily Mass goer, you can still access the daily reading for your review. I have them emailed to me daily from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). They are available on apps like Laudate, Truth and Life.
Another idea is to get a Bible (physical or app) and just start reading it. I’d recommend starting with the New Testament, specifically the four Gospels. Just read as much as you’d like in a sitting. It can be a couple verses or an entire chapter. For what you read, pray through questions #1 and 2 from above.
I say the same rote prayers every day. They include:
- Our Father
- Hail Mary
- Glory Be
- Serenity Prayer
- Prayer I wrote that speaks to my journey and spirituality. You can find it at (past blog).
The difference between when I learned each of these and now is that today I say each one very slowly, hanging on and praying through each word. I always start with the Our Father and often have to say it 2 or 3 times in order to slow my mind down enough to pray through every word. You’d be amazed how your prayer life changes when you pray these prayers like that.
Little hint…I say these rote prayers during my morning commute, instead of listening to the radio (which is always set for Christian music btw).
Daily Dialogue with God
I’d not suggest doing this while driving down the road. Instead do it in a place where you can concentrate on what you’re doing and where you’re in a position to write things down. Although I’d recommend 10 minutes a day, start with 5 if you’d like. You can build up to 10 and go beyond that if you feel called to.
Going to Mass daily, I typically make sure I show up early so that I can get my 10 minutes in before Mass. Although I do it at home occasionally, my absolute best prayer time is in Church, in front of Jesus in the Eucharist…bar none. So that’s where I typically do it. The process is as follows:
- Identify to God whatever is on your heart that day. It could be a dream, desire, or aspiration. It could be a fault or failing, a current challenge, or another person who is struggling. It’s your choice. God is interested in whatever you bring Him
- Typically in silence, detail the situation to God. Unpack the issue for Him. What is the challenge or opportunity? What are your ideas to address or resolve it? What do you see as the pros and cons to your ideas?
- Then just sit in silence, listening for the voice of God to speak to your heart. Be patient. Wait on Him. See what comes to you.
- Journal as much of the above as you would like, especially how you believe God is speaking to you.
The above works; it really works. Every time I do it, it works. If there’s one part of my prayer life that drops off occasionally, this is it. I typically do it at least 4-5 days a week. Interestingly, it’s what I have to work the hardest to do and it’s the most gratifying when I do it. It always works.
As always, please contact me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with questions, comments, or challenges.
God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!!