One topic I seem to write about the most is prayer. Maybe that’s because prayer is something I struggle the most with. So, for Lent, rather than “give something up”, I decided to take something on – to become more disciplined in my prayer. Specifically, to make sure I make the time each morning and night to pray as I promised I would when I was ordained to be a deacon.
Two weeks ago while dashing through the church to get to a meeting, I realized I had not taken time yet for Morning Prayer. I sat in the front pew and struggled to focus as I prayed the Breviary, I was speaking the words, but my mind was wandering. So, I just sat there and talked with God. He helped me sort out my priorities for the day and remember a few things to do that were not on my list. Although I felt a little guilty for struggling with my Breviary prayer, I also felt refreshed and “ready to go” after talking with God.
Later that evening I read a reflection on prayer by St. Francis de Sales. He said, “If during vocal prayer your heart is drawn to mental prayer, do not restrain it, but let your devotion take that channel, omitting the vocal prayers which you intended to say: that which takes their place is more acceptable to God, and more useful to your own soul.” I think that’s what I experienced earlier in the morning while praying. Was I forcing my mind to vocal and written prayer? Was God calling me to talk to him through mental prayer? I’m not sure, but those are questions to add to my list of “things to ask God” someday when I meet Him.
Our Catechism says prayer is God’s gift of grace to us. Whether we pray through words or gestures, prayer is centered in our hearts (CCC 2563.) Prayer is not presenting a list of wants and needs to God. We don’t pray to give Him our grievances about life. We pray to be ever mindful that God is with us no matter what we are facing. We pray in thanksgiving and to honor Him. We pray to do our best in the given situation to keep our focus on God and exalt him in everything we do. We pray for strength and courage, and yes, we even pray for miracles. But most of all, we pray to be ever mindful of God’s presence in our life, and keep us focused on doing His will.
To quote my first Deacon’s Corner on prayer: “St. Ignatius said praying is like talking to Jesus as a friend. Ask forgiveness. Ask for protection and help. Ask for wisdom about the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude to receive the grace of peace in your heart that comes through prayer.”
May you have a Blessed week in prayer with our Lord.