We often are deaf to God’s presence, loving inspirations, guidance, tenderness, and mercy because of the noise around us and inside us. Create your own space for silence where you can be alone and quiet today. Let God find you there in the silence. Shut out the external noise, as well as the noise inside you, and listen carefully. God’s voice is like a gentle, peaceful breeze. Be silent, for silence is the language of God. We think of prayer as speaking to God, but if it’s real communication, then we have to give God a chance to speak, to inspire, to heal, to guide, to forgive, and to help us.
Enjoy these reflections on the power of prayer.
Prayer: A Loving Conversation
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”—James 4:8
Over the years people have asked me, “What is prayer?” I like to quote St. Teresa of Avila, who described prayer as “a loving conversation with the one who I know loves me.” It’s a love-talk with God. With the eyes of faith, I see his acts of love in my life. Love draws love. I spontaneously want to love him in return. When I pray, first I thank God for his love and spend time simply saying, “I love you too.”
Secondly, I try to listen for God’s words, inspirations, and ideas, usually by prayerfully reading the Scriptures. And finally, I ask for God’s support and guidance. Try praying like this: Thank, listen, and ask. It’s a great prayer formula. Another way to pray is with the acronym ACTS: Adoration, Contrition (for our sins), Thanksgiving, and Supplication (asking for what we or others need). On different days we might pray with more emphasis on one or two of these than on the others. Let your heart and God’s love lead to the prayer you need.
Prayer: Lord, show me how to draw near to you. Amen.
Pray with Your Body
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?”—1 Corinthians 6:19
Have you ever thought of praying with your body? We often reserve prayer for our minds or souls, which is where our conversations with God begin. But we are not pure spirits, as are the angels. We also have bodies, and therefore we can pray with our bodies. For example, simply folding our hands is a prayer, kneeling is a prayer, and opening our arms to heaven is a prayer. Prostrating our bodies facedown before God is a prayer; Jesus often prayed that way. All these express our desire to connect with our loving God.
They often strengthen our mental prayer. Today offer at least one body prayer as an expression of the love of God in your heart. Fold your hands in prayer or kneel for minute. Your body is praying—you are praying. A very helpful prayer at night, even while lying in bed, is the Sign of the Cross. As I touch my forehead, I say, “Father, thank you for your blessings of today.” As I touch my heart, I say, “Son Jesus, forgive my sins and shortcomings,” and as I touch my shoulders, I pray, “Holy Spirit, inspire and guide me tomorrow.” It’s a perfect way to put ourselves into the arms of our loving God as we drift off to sleep under his watchful gaze. Try this simple prayer tonight. It is a beautiful way to have a peaceful night’s sleep.
Prayer: Lord, show me how to use my body in prayer to you. Amen.
Prayer Opens Me Up
“You shall be like a watered garden.”—Isaiah 58:11
Sometimes in our spiritual life, our internal life, our hearts feel cramped. Very often we need to seek no other reason than the fact that we are refusing to go outside ourselves to love, and especially to forgive generously. Our resentments imprison us in a net that will strangle us. To get free, we must pray for the generosity to love and forgive. God’s help will set us free to be filled with limitless oceans of his love and life. Through Isaiah, God promises, “You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.” Imprisoned in an internal net? Ask for the grace to humbly pray and forgive.
Prayer: Lord, fill me to the brim with your Holy Spirit’s gifts of prayer and mercy. Amen.
Prayer Made Simple
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him.”—Ephesians 1:17
Many people have a Bible but do not know how to use it for personal prayer. Here’s a very simple formula that may help you. First, find a place where you can be alone—perhaps a room in your house or a special corner. Second, pick a passage from the Scriptures, maybe one of the psalms, a chapter from one of the Gospels, a letter of St. Paul, or something from the Old Testament. If you don’t know where to begin, look at the readings assigned to Mass for that day. Finally, ask for whatever is on your heart. God is listening! Then think, What is the Lord saying to me or about me? About this situation? Start with ten minutes a day in the same place. You’ll begin developing the habit of prayer. Stay with it. Watch how peaceful you become as you are drawn closer to God and to yourself.
Prayer: Lord, give me the grace to pray. Help me. Amen.