What is prayer:

CCC: 2559-2561

2559 “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?3 He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that “we do not know how to pray as we ought,” are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. “Man is a beggar before God.”6 (2613; 2763)

2560 “If you knew the gift of God!” The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.8

2561 “You would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” Paradoxically our prayer of petition is a response to the plea of the living God: “They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water!”10 Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love to the thirst of the only Son of God

The 10 tips:

1.   BEG FOR THE GRACE!   St. Augustine says that we are all beggars before God.  St. Paul in his letter to the Romans says that we really do not know how to pray.  Good news: the Holy Spirit can intercede for us so that we can say, “Abba, Father” (Rom 8). Turn to the Holy Spirit and beg Him for the gift of prayer and that we will reallydesire to pray. Let us ask Jesus, “Lord teach us how to pray!” This was the request of the Apostles and Jesus taught them (and us) the Our Father. Mary, too!  Mary wants to teach us how to pray.  In her Apparitions she is always exhorting us to pray, especially the Most Holy Rosary.

2.   CLEAN THE WINDOW.  Often we cannot pray well because our lives, our minds and our consciences are not right with God. In other words, we have damaged or even broken totally our friendship with Jesus. Why not make a good confession, clean the window, clear the conscience, restore friendship with the Lord and then be able to talk to the Lord more intimately in prayer!

3.   TIME!  Prayer can be very demanding and we simply have to give God space so He can act in our lives. We all have habits—eating, cleaning, work and many more!  The best of habits that we can form is the habit of prayer. Give time to the Lord! If possible, like Abel, give the Lord your first fruits. That is to say, find time to pray as early as possible. We read in the 1st chapter of the Gospel of Mark that Jesus got up way before dawn and He was absorbed in prayer. Early morning prayer, an early Holy Hour, an “Hour of Power”, will give you light, encouragement and strength for the whole course of the day!  Try it and you will never regret it!

4.    PLACE!  Indeed we can pray anytime and anyplace and use any words that we want (or no words!). However it is highly recommended that we find a time and a place to pray. Obviously the best place to pray would be in the Silent Presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, because Jesus is truly present there. However, due to family circumstances, this may not be possible. We must then find some quiet place where we will not be disturbed to pray. Maybe in the quiet of our room. Jesus says to go to your room and pray. Perhaps, you can construct your own little home-sanctuary and pray there—with statues, paintings of Jesus and Mary, candles and incense. It is good to create an atmosphere that will foster prayer.  Find the time and place!

5.    TEXT/MATERIAL TO HELP YOU PRAY!  The great St. Teresa of Avila, “Doctor of Prayer”, said that she would never go to her prayer time without some book to help her to enter into prayer. We should do the same! Of course the best of prayer-sources is the Bible, the Word of God itself; and the Gospels are the very center and heart of the Bible, the Word of God. Enter in with an attitude of openness and generosity with the words of Samuel, who heard the word of God in the Temple: “Speak O Lord for your servant is listening..”

Bring a good prayer book! We should never underestimate the use of vocal prayers. The great St. Anthony Claret commented that he received many graces by praying vocal prayers. What are vocal prayers? They are prayers that we recite with our words, think in our minds and relish in our hearts. Some of the traditional vocal prayers are the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be, Prayer to our Guardian Angel, Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity, Act of Contrition, and the Creed.  However, a good prayer book will have prayers to the saints, novenas to saints and to prepare for important feasts, prayers to prepare for Mass and to give thanksgiving after Mass and many more. Finally, bring the little booklet written by St. Alphonsus on “Visits to the Blessed Sacrament”. In Spanish, the “15 minutos” (15 minutes) of time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. In other words, come prepared to make your prayer with the Lord. In your prayer when God simply moves you to talk to Him spontaneously as two friends or lovers would talk, you can drop the book and simply talk to Him.

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