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Four Ways to Make Your Prayer Much More Powerful

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We all want to be better at prayer, but how do we do it?

Every person wants to be heard. When we speak, we want to know someone is listening. When we pray, it is often to thank God, to remind ourselves of His place in our lives, and to ask for things we need. But sometimes, this can feel like an exercise in futility. Many people complain they don't get answers, or that nothing ever seems to happen. Everyone wants their prayer to be more fruitful and effective. So how are some ways we can improve? 

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Ora Pro Nobis (Pray for us).

Ora Pro Nobis (Pray for us).

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
10/13/2022 (1 month ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Prayer, powerful, seven, ways, Catholic, devotion, tips

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Prayer is the lifting of one's heart and mind to God. It has no other requirement than this. You are not required to kneel, to fold your hands, bow your head, or close your eyes to pray. You can pray at any and all times, merely by placing yourself in the presence of God. You can do it when you, work, shower, cook, clean, or do any activity which does not reasonably demand your full attention. But the act of prayer alone isn't enough. We must approach prayer with the correct mindset if we expect for it to be fruitful. 

Here are four ways to make your prayer more powerful.

1. Prayer is an obligation, but we ought not always treat it as such. Instead, we should see it as speaking to a parent who loves us deeply and unconditionally. 

It is true that we are required to pray. Imagine you have a parent, aside from those of your birth, or who raised you, who loves you deeply and unconditionally. So much so, they would give their life for you without a moment's hesitation. Put aside any feelings of unworthiness, because that doesn't matter. (I assure you, we are all unworthy, from the righteously imprisoned to the Pope Himself!) Now understand this parent actually, literally, did in fact already die for you. But, although they died, they still live. That's Jesus. He suffered, died, and was buried for our sins, including those past, present, and even future. That's a lot of love! He also rose from the dead, as predicted, thus conquering death for us. 

What would you think of yourself if you never spoke to this parent? If you refused not only to visit them, but even speak to them? This is what it is like when we do not pray. We are refusing to speak to our most loving parent. 

But imagine now if you did speak to this parent. Imagine what wisdom they would share. Imagine how much they could enrich your life by sharing their story with you, and all the other things they know. When we pray, we should not view it as just a duty, but as an opportunity to share our problems, needs, and wants. To seek help and advice. It is absolutely okay to ask for something you need or want. You may not get what you ask for, (which may itself be a blessing) but it is okay to ask. It is also okay to speak to your loving parent in any manner, as long as it's respectful. You do not have to recite scripted prayers over and over. You can also speak to them as you would any other person whom you deeply respect. Be yourself.

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When you take this approach to prayer, you find that God is far more approachable and loving than even some lifelong Christians seem to understand. 

2. Be willing to change yourself.

Prayer should change you. Consider what happens if you make a new friend, and you spend a lot of time with them, for many months, perhaps even years. Over time, you become more like them. You adopt their mannerisms, their figures of speech. You learn what they like. You get to where you can finish one another's sentences. Prayer does this, because when we pray we are spending time with our God, who truly loves us and knows us perfectly. And in time, we get to know Him. 

As with anyone we get to know, we become more like them. In other words, prayer makes us holy. And we should be willing, even excited for that transformation. If we are willing to allow God to change us, then our prayer will become much more powerful because it will change who we are. That is literally life-changing, and it is always a change for the better. Old bad habits fall away, poor attitudes disappear, all to be replaced by newer and better ways of being. 

It does take time, just like it would take time to get to know any new friend. But with patience and regular prayer, it will happen. 

3. Listen carefully

We live in a world that is absolutely filled with distractions. Usually, someone is selling us something, or trying to persuade us to their way of thinking. And they're very clever how they do it too. The more you pay attention, the more you realize every television program, every song, every billboard, every label around us is designed to sell us something. People who are distracted spend less time thinking. It becomes hard to listen, so only the loudest voices are heard. And those voices are telling us to buy more, to accept something, to abide or tolerate things we wouldn't normally let past. 

This cacophony of distraction does two things. It turns us into mass consumers who are perpetually distracted and are seeking some kind of relief by spending money or accepting the unacceptable. (Pay attention to how every commercial presents a problem, then offers a solution that costs you.) And this prevents you from thinking deeply and listening to quiet voices that need to be heard. Among those voices, the voice of God. 

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While you can pray anywhere, anytime, it is good to find a place and time that is free from distractions for your most important prayers. Now this may be difficult. A person who lives in a full house with many others may find it hard to have privacy. A person who lives in an urban setting might never find quiet. But it is still possible, even in these circumstances, to find relative peace. 

The bathroom is a place where a person may find a few quiet moments to pray alone. Lying in bed when others are drifting to sleep is another opportunity. If possible, your parish chapel should be a quiet place. If needed, take a walk. Even though the noise of a city may be everywhere around you, with some practice you can tune these distractions out, so they at least become mere background noise. Earplugs, headphones, or even music of your own choosing can help. 

Whatever it takes, you must do the work to train your ear to listen to the relatively quiet voices of God, your guardian angel, and all the saints who are in fact always speaking to you in prayer, even when you aren't listening. They may be quiet, but they are never silent. The oddity isn't hearing these voices --it's not hearing them!

This is one place where scripted prayers are quite useful. If you cannot avoid distractions, distract your mind by focusing on scripted prayers. Such prayers are not "vain repetitions." Instead, when offered with faithful and true intention, they are as sweet to the Lord as any other. Indeed, the Our Father was given to us by Jesus Himself, as a model for prayer. It's absolutely okay to pray the Our Father, the Rosary, or any other prayers amid distractions. 

The goal is to attune our senses to listening to voices that are relatively quiet compared to the obnoxious din in the background. It may take practice and time. However, as you cultivate the skill, it will become easier and easier to hear the voice of God, and soon you will appreciate the time you spend in prayer much more. 

4. Open your eyes

When we talk about miracles, we often talk about events that took place in the ancient past, or at least happen only to other people. We rarely talk about miracles as things that happen all the time, before our very eyes. Yet, miracles do happen, constantly. 

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Our modern world conditions us to see miracles as the work of science or technology, or as something that is related to superstition, pseudoscience, or insanity. As a last resort, when confronted with an obvious miracle, the world simply tell us, "Science will figure it out soon and get back to you. Just have faith in Science." Amusing, right? 

A miracle is anything that happens which can only be explained by supernatural means (CCC 547). But when you apply this definition, you find that everything is a miracle. As Carl Sagan, (a famous agnostic) once said, "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." In other words, we can't have anything natural unless we first have the universe. And when we examine the origin of the universe, we come to state of being where no universe existed. Not even time existed (in the scientific sense) because there was nothing for time to exist in (no universe, no time!). So what existed? Only the supernatural, that which is beyond the natural universe, i.e., GOD. 

Once you recognize that our very existence is a miracle, it becomes easier to see miracles everywhere. Every baby that is conceived, every flower that blooms, every sunrise and sunset, it's all a miracle. The eye of faith, once you learn to see with it, cannot unsee the miracles that God works before us every single day. Miracles are not things that happen to other people, or people who visit a Marian shrine, or shake hands with a holy person. Miracles happen to everyone, even non-believers, we are just conditioned to ignore them. 

Once you realize the world is full of miraculous wonder, your conversations with God become enriched and far more fruitful than you can imagine. 

There's tremendous power in faith. 

If you learned something from this article, please consider supporting Catholic learning by giving to YCVF.org. 

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