As a missionary, prayer is a part of my everyday life. I wake up every morning and do a holy hour in front of the Eucharist, and then I pray Liturgy of the Hours with the community here. I even go to Mass several times a week.
But after going on an eight day silent retreat, when all I did was pray, I have been thinking more and more about what I do in prayer. I’ve come to the realization that I don’t always pray in prayer.
I often find myself sitting in the chapel, quietly reflecting on the day, thinking about my blessings, problems, and my relationships, even flipping through the Bible, and looking for words of wisdom. And then, about halfway through my holy hour, I realize, I haven’t actually said anything to God! I haven’t asked Him what He has to say about anything I have been thinking about. I haven’t asked God to give me the grace to overcome my problems, or directly thanking Him for the good things in my life.
It’s as if I have been thinking about a conversation I want to have with someone instead of actually calling them on the phone.
Prayer is more than just quiet reflection. It is about offering our life to the Lord, so that He may be invited into it. He wants to be a part of every part of our lives, the good and the bad of the day, the successes and the failures and even help us as we pray: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes (Romans 8:26)!
So, to help me actually pray in prayer, I have been beginning my holy hour with a prayer I learned on my eight day by St. Ignatius. In this prayer, I ask the Lord to use everything that I think, feel, and do while I pray to be used to grow closer to Him.
It goes like this:
I ask grace of God our Lord that all my intentions, actions
and operations may be directed purely to the service and praise of His Divine Majesty.
So, I challenge you to pray this prayer the next time you find yourself distracted in prayer, or not really praying at all. God wants to help you pray and He will answer your prayers!
I’m praying for you!