How to Pray/My Prayer Summer ’18 Prayer Challenge by Rhady Taveras We often stress about working on how we communicate within our social and romantic relationships, but how about working on our communication in the one relationship that really counts? With summer upon us, we can expect longer days and more free time since we won’t have any more assignments to worry about — except for one. This summer, I’d like to challenge you to work on your communication with Christ. Strengthening your communication with Christ starts with understanding that prayer is the best way to communicate with Him. PRAYER — it can be so intimidating. With expectations of what to say and the pressure of “doing it right,” I sometimes find myself trying to build the perfect prayer, as if I’m trying to impress some stranger. Then I take a step back and remember that God knows me! He knows my intentions when I purposely try too hard. He’s probably looking down at me right now, snickering as I write this because all He really wants is a genuine relationship with me. And guess what? He wants the same for you, too. Whether you’d like to revamp your prayer routine or don’t have a routine you’ve made your own yet, there are many ways you can work on your prayer life. Below are some challenges that I’ve found deepen our commitment to prayer. They range from 15 to 30 to 60 days, and it’s expected that, as the number of days increases, the intensity of meditation and life application increase as well. My hope is that at least one of these options (or a combination of them) is a good match for you — that they not only strengthen your communication with Christ, but also build your armor as His disciple. 15 Days: Saint the Way to Salvation Saints are great examples of prayer. Think of them as older siblings who’ve already been through what’s to come. Their testimonies are a great resource for when we are in need of guidance on our walk to salvation. Pick a saint and over the next 15 days, learn about their journey to God’s Kingdom. Spend time reflecting on why God chose them and let that be a foundation for discovering just how much Christ values you. Where to Start: Try reflecting on your personal journey and consider revisiting saints you’ve made personal connections with, like your confirmation saint or a saint who shares your name. If you’re looking for support in an area in which you’re struggling, try searching for saints who were known for prayer, forgiveness, or conversion from lustful lives. If you’re interested in historical structure, try searching by geographical region, time-period, or even feast days. If you’re still having some trouble, here are some saints I’ve made connections with in the past: St. Thomas Aquinas St. Patrick of Ireland St. Pio of Pietrelcina St. Michael the Archangel St. Teresa of Avila 30 Days: Scripture is Life You know that feeling you get when you’re worried about a test and then your teacher lets you use your notes? That’s how I feel about Scripture: It’s the study guide God has given us for our journey to His Kingdom. This challenge is designed for someone who knows the test is coming, but maybe needs a little help taking advantage of the study guide. Choose a Bible verse each day for the next 30 days and find ways to build a personal connection with it. Consider how that verse is applicable to your life and reflect on why God chose it for you. Where to Start: It can be hard to open the Bible and just start reading. Luckily, the Church provides us with an awesome reading plan, hand-selecting readings for every day of the year! You can choose a Scripture verse from the Gospel or Psalm for that day. You could also reflect on your overall feeling that day and look up verses that are relevant to your personal experience. Below are a few verses I recommend: Romans 8:28 John 4:14 Psalm 119:105 Matthew 7:7 Revelation 21:4 1 Corinthians 10:13 60 Days: Love thy Neighbor If you have a solid prayer routine but are looking for a new approach, this heftier challenge is for you. Take 60 days this summer to practice the art of intercession, focusing on one person at a time. Praying for others is a great way to dig deeper and take your prayer life to the next level. Selflessness is hard, but this level of commitment will strengthen your humility and self-discipline. Choose 60 names — they can be family members, friends, coworkers, people you’ve lost touch with, celebrities, politicians, literally anyone! Write them down a individual pieces of paper and keep them in a jar. Pull from out a name each day and devote your prayer to that person. Where to Start: There are many ways to offer prayer for others. As you acknowledge their beauty and intercede for their holiness, you can also fast for them, offer a rosary for their needs, spend a few minutes in front of the Blessed Sacrament, recite a Hail Mary for them first thing in the morning or last thing before bed, offer them up in Mass, go on a run and offer the struggle for them — the possibilities are endless! Challenge Survival Tips Choosing the Right Challenge Choosing the challenge that is best for you is key to having a successful experience. When deciding which challenge to go with, ask yourself: Which one is the most realistic? Which one will challenge me most? Which one will draw me closer to Jesus? Which one touches an area that I lack and want to strengthen? Consistency Find a way to make this prayer challenge a part of your daily routine. Will it be what you’ll wake up to or the last thing you’ll do before you go to sleep? Make a decision and stick to it. Keeping Track Journaling is a good way to keep track of your reflections and findings. It’s a great resource for when you’re searching for inspiration, or want to look back on how much you’ve grown and accomplished. Don’t Forget to Listen This isn’t simply an opportunity to ramble on about your life; it’s an opportunity to find the communication style that works best for you and God. Be sure to make some time for silence and witness how He communicates back to you. It Doesn’t End After 15, 30, or 60 Days It’s one thing to be excited about completing a challenge, but truth be told, the real challenge starts the day after you’re done. That’s when you realize whether the challenge was just a task you wanted to check off your list, or if it’s something you can build a virtuous lifestyle from. Don’t just push through and complete it. Allow this experience to truly transform you for the long-term.