“Prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trail as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.” --St.Therese of Lisieux
A Few Keys to Prayer: Prayer is essential to living a holy life, to becoming a saint. Praying is not about a method - there are many fine ones - prayer is about showing up with the proper interior dispositions. Prayer is a work of grace - it’s less about us and more about Him. The interior dispositions needed are faith and trust that God is present with me in this time of prayer. Even though it sounds crazy, begin prayer with a prayer: “Lord, I trust that you are present with me in this moment and that you look on me with passionate love.”
Fidelity and perseverance: “Time spent faithfully every day in mental prayer that is poor, arid, distracted, and relatively short is worth more, and will be infinitely more fruitful for our progress, than long, ardent spells of mental prayer from time to time, when circumstances make it easy” (Jacques Philippe, Time for God). Setting aside a specific time of prayer each day and sticking to it will be the means that leads to a better quality of prayer. In the beginning be faithful to your daily time of prayer and persevere during the difficult days.
Purity of intention: “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall she God.” Purity of intention is desiring to live more for God than for ourselves. It does not mean we are perfect yet, but we have the desire to be so. Our intention should be to pray to please God - the gifts received during prayer are a bonus.
Ideas for Daily Prayer Game Plan:
Prayer Game Plan (minimum): 7 min. Mental Prayer 1 min. Act of Spiritual Communion 1 min. Prayer at before Meals 11 min. Theological Study/Spiritual Reading 5 min. Rosary one decade 5 min. Daily Examen 30 minutes a day
Prayer Game Plan (goal): 30 min. Mental Prayer 30 min. Daily Mass 1 min. Prayer before Meals 10 min. Theological Study/Spiritual Reading 14 min. Rosary 5 min. Daily Examen 90 minutes a day
Mental Prayer: pray with your favorite episode/verse from the Bible or a quote from a Saint or a good spiritual book; or talk to God about your day, your life, about your desire to love Him more. Anything that helps you enter into prayer. Set the timer on your phone. Here is a deeper discussion on mental prayer.
Prayer before/after Meals - pray before and after every meal even in public. It's ok to be subtle or unabashed. Before: Bless us, O Lord! and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen. After: We give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits, O Almighty God, who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Rosary/Divine Mercy Chaplet or if you want to get crazy both - pray as a family or individually: pray on the way to work (helps with road rage, trust me, I know). Listen to both on the Relevant Radio app.
Daily Examen - go over your day (graces and failures); thank God and ask for His merciful forgiveness and the grace to be better tomorrow. The Daily Examen as practiced by St. Ignatius Loyola. I will write more on this prayer in the future. It is one of the most powerful prayers you could begin to pray, but also one of the most difficult (I found) to get implemented. Two ways to get started: Reimagining the Examen app or right here.
Prayer, which is communion with God, is that for which our heart longs. Those who pray are healthier and happier but don't just take my word for it, read here or watch here. The reality of God’s love and our response (prayer) are undeniable. Start with the minimum daily prayer plan and grow from there. I promise you will not regret it.