-Excerpts from Prove It! Prayer by Amy WelbornPrayer is talking to God, but it’s more than that. It’s even more than listening to God.Prayer is being tuned into God and responding to His presence in your life.That can mean talking, listening or just being. It can mean singing, drawing or writing. It can happen alone or with others. It can be joyful, grateful, hopeful and even angry.Prayer is all of those things. That’s why St. Paul was able to say the most amazing thing about prayer. He told the Christians in Thessalonika, Greece to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess 5:17).Wow. That’s a lot of prayer. Maybe even a whole life’s worth.
-Excerpts from Prove It! Prayer by Amy Welborn
Prayer is talking to God, but it’s more than that. It’s even more than listening to God.
Prayer is being tuned into God and responding to His presence in your life.
That can mean talking, listening or just being. It can mean singing, drawing or writing. It can happen alone or with others. It can be joyful, grateful, hopeful and even angry.
Prayer is all of those things. That’s why St. Paul was able to say the most amazing thing about prayer. He told the Christians in Thessalonika, Greece to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess 5:17).
Wow. That’s a lot of prayer. Maybe even a whole life’s worth.
Different forms of prayer:
There as many different ways to pray as there are people, but when you get down to it, there are just a few basic ways that we respond to and talk to God:
Do’s and Don’ts:
Sure. And God is everywhere, all the time, too. You’re right about that.
But what’s also true is that if we really and truly love God, we want to express it. It’s just like any relationship. If our best friend or our boyfriend or girlfriend never, ever tells us how much we mean to them, never expresses any kind of affection…we might wonder, right?
This isn’t about rules. It’s about a relationship. If you love God and are dependent on Him….you really can’t stop thinking about him or talking to him. That’s what love is.
Let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord! (Psalm 150)
There’s no “should” or “shouldn’t” about feelings during our prayer. Sometimes we expect that if our prayer is “real” or is “working,” we’re going to feel some kind of emotional high or excitement, or we’re going to hear God’s voice booming in our ears.
That’s not the way it works.
Don’t depend on emotions to judge your prayer. God sometimes works through our emotions…and sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes emotions can even be an obstacle to hearing God’s voice clearly.
That way of hearing God’s voice during prayer and in our life in general is called discernment.
To discern what God is saying to us in our prayer lives, we need to remember some important points:
Praying with and for others:
Praying is something we do alone, sure, but we also pray with others. God doesn’t just call us to follow him as individuals – he calls us as his people, his Church.
So it makes sense that we gather as his Church and offer praise and thanksgiving to Him. God’s friends have never – from the people of Israel to the earliest Christians – treated prayer as something to do just on your own with your own made-up prayers.
Praying joins us, not only to God, but to all of creation as well!
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Catholics believe that death is just the beginning – it’s the beginning of new life with God. So that means that the people who have died and gone to heaven are still around – they are part of the Church, or the Communion of Saints.
So Catholic prayer to saints is absolutely no different than you asking your next-door neighbor to pray for you. When we pray to saints, we don’t worship them. The word prayer, in its origins, just means “ask.” If you actually read the prayers to saints that Catholics pray, you see that’s what they’re all about – asking these holy men and women to pray for us, just as we ask our friends on earth to pray for us as well.
It may not seem like it, but God does always answer our prayers. Jesus says he does (Luke 11:5-13, Matthew 8:5-11).
The problem we sometimes (okay,usually) have is that we can’t see the big picture. God’s answers may not fit into our plan. They may seem to go against what we think is best. The problem is, like little kids begging from their parents, we don’t always know what’s best.
It’s hard, and there are no easy answers. But in the mystery, there’s trust. We know that even Jesus himself felt abandoned by God on the cross (Mt. 27:46), but that God himself told Job that everything works together for the good in His plan. (Job 38-42:6)
If Prayer is my way to God then…
…I should pray a lot.
Face it. Life is complicated. There’s a lot you don’t understand. You sometimes have a hard time understanding yourself. Don’t you wish there was someone who could clue you in on the best way to live and how to be happy and at peace?
Well, there is. If you really do believe that God created you and that God loves you beyond reason, then you’ve got to trust that God isn’t going to abandon you. If you need answers…God’s got them. Have you asked him lately?
(Ps. 118:5; Luke 19:1-10)
I should trust prayers that have helped others draw closer to God.
Of course, prayer comes from the heart. The great saints all tell us that the beginning of prayer is the simple movement of your heart towards God. We don’t need lots of words to get there.
But we do need some words. And while it’s great for us to use prayers that we make up ourselves, as Catholics, it’s also good to remember that we’re not alone. Millions of people before us have prayed, and others have passed down the words they used, and used them themselves.
And these are some powerful words – the prayers in Scripture, prayers of the Mass, and the traditional, ancient prayers you’ll find in any prayer book.
Face it. Sometimes we can’t find the words to pray. Paul says this himself: “…we do not know to pray as we ought.” (Rom. 8:26). We need help, not just to put our feelings into words, but to make sure that we don’t get all wrapped up in ourselves and our egos. The words we pray should lead us to God…and there are tons of tried and true prayers that do just that.
The most ancient of those prayers are the Psalms. Written over hundreds of years before Jesus, they have been used by Jews and Christians to express every nook and cranny of faith and yearning.
They’re a great place to start – especially if you’d like to pray more, but you just don’t know where to begin.
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