Remember the days when praying used to mean asking God for a “unicorn that’s so fluffy” or for “no more tests ever?” Once I asked God for wings … I’m still waiting. God can do absolutely anything for us and He loves when we ask. But prayer isn’t just about testing Him. Prayer has to be about our friendship with Him.
Prayer is an important part of Lent. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines prayer as “The raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” (para. 2559) It’s easy to think prayer is boring and then not want to make an effort to do it. God isn’t the one who’s boring – we are. I once heard a priest say that the easiest way to be miserable is to sit and think about yourself for 30 minutes. I’m sorry to say that a lot of times, that’s exactly what my “prayer” time is. When my prayer is a monologue, me just talking “at” God and not “with” Him – that’s when I’m bored.
Encountering God in our daily lives can start just by making the effort. Here are some practical ways to pray:
- Invite God into your day. Ask Him what He wants you to do that day. Ask Him what grace he wants to give you. Offer your day to Him as you’re getting ready. Pray between the snooze button and the shower. No one said you can’t pray while you brush your teeth or while you wait for your ride to school.
Prayer isn’t rehearsed. Talk with Him like a friend; tell Him everything. He’s the one that will never change, let us down, or disappoint. It’s ok to just be silent too. Let God simply love you in your prayer time. His love transforms, heals, saves, comforts, and sustains us. If you want to learn to love, look at the cross.
- Pray where ever you are. Don’t think that prayer only inside of a church. God is everywhere. In Baptism you received God into your soul and you can always go to that quiet place to find Him – even in the middle of noise and confusion. Take off the mask. With God we are free to be authentic, who we really are. He already knows you better than you know yourself.
- Use the Bible or another religious book. If you’re having trouble focusing, open the Bible and see where God leads you. Go to the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and close your eyes and imagine yourself in one of the stories. Or simply allow the words to speak to you personally.
- There’s an app for that. Old fashioned prayer doesn’t have to be old fashioned. Use your phone to remind you to pray, or better yet – get an app with your favorite prayers, the Bible, the rosary, or the liturgy of the hours. Spend some time talking to God and invite Him to make all your other conversations worthy of his ears.
When you are able to encounter God in a genuine way, it’s exciting. Have you ever thought about how you are the one that God is thinking about and loving at every moment? When prayer becomes more of a friendship, it’s easier to trust God with the details in your life. Let’s face it, being human is hard and we need help. I may not need wings (right now) but I definitely need patience, humility and charity. St. Teresa of Avila said, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.”
It takes time to get into the habit of a prayer life. Most of the saints weren’t having heavenly apparitions or hearing voices every day. They became holy through constantly giving every moment of their day to God. Give yourself permission to not be perfect at prayer and let lent be a time to learn what works for you, and what ways you pray best.
I’m praying for you.