How I Pray Now
By Patrick Madrid Publisher of Envoy Magazine ó www.envoymagazine.com
IíM PRETTY SURE I shouldnít be writing this article. I definitely shouldnít be writing it if youíre reading it in hopes of learning how to scale the heights of prayer. Let me tell you right up front, Iím no paragon.
Keeping my prayer life consistent and focused is a struggle. Distraction is my constant and noisy companion, laziness my Siamese twin. I donít pray as often as I should, as intensely as I should, or as generously as I should. In this Iím probably like many other Catholics who have the same struggles. On the plus side, I do pray, and that, I know, is a good start. Itís comforting to know that what God wants most of all from us in our prayer relationship with Him is that we try, that we make an effort to converse with him, however unspectacular the results may seem. When I was a kid, I prayed mostly because my folks told me I had to. I donít mean they were oppressive or overly demanding in regulating our family devotions; actually they were wise and kind in the ways they taught us the faith. But they instilled in me a deep sense of prayer being a natural ó no, an indispensable ó facet of daily life. Growing up, family Rosary, prayers before meals, Advent-wreath devotions, Lenten Stations of the Cross and, of course, the prayer of the Mass were the very air we breathed.
LEARNING THE VALUE OF PRAYER WHEN WEíRE KIDS
Sure, my childhood prayers before meals were usually mechanical and rattled off clickety-clack fast, but even so, I was aware that I couldnít even think of taking a bite into that baloney sandwich without first asking the Lord to bless His gift, which I was about to receive. It was like being taught to always wear your seat belt. Thatís a lesson that stuck. Just as I canít get into a car without instinctively reaching to put on the belt, I canít pass the day without spending at least some time in prayer.
Iíve grown in my awareness that I need to pray. That awareness has a lot to do with how I pray now. My parents ingrained in me a need for the rhythm of prayer to order and mark the days and nights of my life. That sense of prayer being a vital necessity in my life has never left me. My prayer life, mediocre as it may be, is imbued with the realization that my prayers really matter.
My efforts to talk to God daily, to pour out to him my angers and fears, worries and joys, to open my heart to him in sorrow for the sins Iíve committed against Him, to smile at Him now and then throughout the day, to thank Him and praise Him for the wondrous gifts of my wife and children, have meaning to me precisely because I know they have meaning to Him.
PRAYER IS TALKING TO OUR ďDADDY,Ē ABBA FATHER
When I was a child, I figure prayer was more of a duty, a chore I had to perform if I didnít want to make God angry. How wrong I was! Iíve learned that God is pleased by my efforts to talk with Him. Heís like a daddy who rejoices at even the slightest show of affection from His little child just learning to talk. Iím like that child. I find that my daily prayers mainly revolve around asking my Daddy to teach me to grow up to be like Him.
ďTeach me to walk. Teach me to know and love You. Catch me when I fall and sin against you. Iím sorry for what I did.Ē Perhaps this is what Our Lord meant when He said, ďYou must become like little children.Ē
THE VALUE OF ďFORMULA PRAYERSĒ
Now that I am a father myself, I see my parentís wisdom in making regular family prayer non-negotiable. As my wife and I do our best to teach our children to pray, the wisdom comes back full circle. When I tell my children when, how and why they must pray, Iím looking in the mirror telling these things to myself. My typical dayís prayer regimen: brief morning prayer when I rise; prayers before meals, on most days, five decades of the Rosary with the family after breakfast (we home school our children and that is the most convenient time); an effort to go to morning Mass on at least one weekday; twenty minutes or so reading Scripture or another spiritual book; a simple and brief examination of conscience; and several minutes of mental prayer before I go to sleep. Thatís the form.
The content is a mix between rote prayers, such as the Our Father, Act of Contrition and the Memorare, and the moments of spontaneous prayer that wells up from the soul. One of the most beautiful and helpful prayers I say is the Gloria. I try to pray the Gloria to the Blessed Trinity once a day, just to remind the Lord (and myself) that I love and praise Him simply for who He is. When I pray the Gloria, Iím not asking for anything ó no petitions, requests, or expressions of sorrow. I can lift my mind and heart to God as I pray this ancient hymn of the Church: ďLord, God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship You, ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Featured Today
- Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
- My Dad
- A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
- John Paul II as an Apostle of Mercy
- Embrace every moment as sacred time
- A Recession Antidote
- The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
- Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
- Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
- Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience