Let the Holy Spirit Form You in the Life of Prayer | National Catholic Register
“The Holy Spirit who teaches the Church and reminds her of all that Jesus said, also instructs her in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same fundamental forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise.” (CEC 2644)
When I went to school at the University of Notre Dame, I would go down to the Grotto the day before a big exam and light a candle.
My prayer went like this: “Lord, I know I didn’t study for this biology test, but I really need an A in this class, and I plan to become a doctor so I can do well. things.” (Smart, huh? Well, nobody calls me Dr. Tom, so you can tell how it worked.)
Many people seem to have a similar misconception about prayer.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines prayer using a quote from Saint John Damascene: “Prayer is the lifting up of one’s mind and heart to God or the asking of God for good things.”
We often tend to skip the first part (“raise the mind and heart”) and focus on the second (“ask for good things”). My purpose of this article today is to give you a different perspective on prayer.
So if prayer is the lifting up of one’s mind and heart to God, how does one do that? What does that mean? God calls us to be in relationship with him. He wants us to interact with him. But how?
God connects us with people to show us how to love. Think of your relationship with God as you would a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, and imagine starting with this conversation: “Could you come do my laundry? And on the way, stop at the grocery store and buy some things? I won’t be here – I’ll be out my friends. Thank you and goodbye.”
Prayer is a way to communicate with God. We talk, and we listen. How do we do that? Again, think about the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. When you think of this person, what do you think? You think about the characteristics that bring you together. Likewise, in prayer we begin by praising God for who and what he is.
After you say something nice to your girlfriend or boyfriend, you don’t gossip. You stop, wait for a response and listen. The same is true in your relationship with God. You watch and you listen. God doesn’t necessarily give you a verbal answer, but he makes himself known in many ways if you stop, listen, and think.
I used to struggle with the difference between praise and thanksgiving. Praise is acknowledging God for who He is and thanksgiving is thanking Him for the things He has done for your good.
Let’s go back to our girlfriend/boyfriend example — we are quick to thank someone for helping solve a problem, wash our car or cook dinner. This acknowledgment and the “thank you” that follows brings joy to both of you. Think about it. When you praise and thank God, you are thinking outside yourself of the majesty and mystery of God. You and God are satisfied with it. So it shouldn’t be a rushed part of your prayer. Think about the different attributes of God to praise and thank Him for the ways God has blessed you.
Lord God, thank you for my family, for my health for bringing Lauren safely through her surgery. Thank you for your Providence which brought me to meet Joan today. It was a blessing to be able to talk to him.
I often messed up a lot when I was dating someone. I still do stupid things in my marriage. I acted without thinking. So, I apologized several times, and I had plenty of time to reflect on my mistakes. I want to be a better husband. I want a better relationship. And so it is with God — and He can truly forgive. The next step in prayer is to ask for forgiveness.
Then when you pray for God’s grace, you may be asking for things that don’t get you to heaven, even if they are good things. Maybe he has a better plan. So in your prayer, have faith and trust in him, and be sure to add, “if it be your will.”
The goal, whether through praise, thanksgiving, contrition, or supplication, is to deepen communication.
A wonderful time of prayer is at Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Following our analogy, when you read the scriptures or the Catholic teaching at Adoration, it is like going to a study appointment at university. You are just happy to be with this person. And it feels good. Sometimes it is fruitful to contemplate and talk with God. It’s like a tryst. How awesome is that!
I started this conversation about how our conversation with God can be like our conversation with people. Well, our conversation with people can be like our conversation with God. We can use these same techniques in our relationships with friends, colleagues, and family. We can praise their success, thank them for their help, ask them how we could help them — and we can tell them we’re sorry when we’re wrong.
So I suggest that you assess both the quantity and the quality of your prayer life. As for quantity, do you have God compartmentalized and only think of him at specific times or when you need him? Or do you think of him and communicate with him often? As for quality – are we distracted when we pray or do we have periods of prayer throughout the day when we are fully concentrated about our prayer and our fellowship with God?
The older I get, the more stupid I think I am. I used to be so sure of things, and found out so often that I was wrong. Today, I try to rely on God. You remember my desire to be a doctor – I tell people now that not becoming a doctor is the best thing that ever happened to me.