Prayer: Attitude and Approach Matter
Any book on spirituality worth its salt stresses the importance of prayer in one’s daily life. But how many of us really understand what it is to pray? As Catholics, we have beautiful traditional prayers that many of us know by heart. The Hail Mary, Glory Be, Our Father, Memorare, and Act of Contrition roll off our tongues easily whenever necessary. These prayers are amazing and they express the beauty and truth of our Catholic faith, but they can also hold some people back in their prayer lives. Prayer is meant to be a loving conversation with God. Our prayer lives shouldn’t merely consist of the recitation of traditional prayers. Sometimes, these prayers are able to express our feelings, but sometimes it is best to simply speak with God about whatever is on your heart.
During Mass today, Fr. Matt pointed out something that I personally often forget. So often, I see prayer as a way of pouring out my troubles and worries before God. While it is that, though, that isn’t the extent of what prayer is. God loves us and He will always listen to us. He is concerned about everything that troubles our hearts and He wants us to trust Him enough to take those concerns to Him. But prayer isn’t just a venting fest, and nor is it a way to get things out of God. God deserves our thanks and praise, and we should give that to Him in prayer. Even when things are terrible and we’re frustrated, we need to remember to thank God for all He has done for us and we need to trust that He will always take care of us.
It sometimes seems like our prayers are never answered, but maybe that’s because we’ve forgotten how to pray. We issue mandates and demands and we expect God to just deliver like some kind of divine vending machine. That isn’t who He is. Instead of approaching prayer with that attitude, we should approach it with a spirit of humility. Not “God, I want this NOW”, but “Father, let Your will be done”. What we ask for isn’t always in the cards, and that’s hard to accept. Like any loving Father, though, God knows what is best for His children even when we can’t see it ourselves.
Of course, there will be times when there are just no words and we can’t think of anything to say. That’s okay! Prayer isn’t about filling up space with a bunch of words. It’s about listening and being open to God’s voice (something I really struggle with, honestly). Can’t think of what to say to God? He knows your heart. Just be silent and let Him speak to you.
Try to set aside time each day for prayer and reflection. Pray throughout the day, every moment. If something troubles you, gives you joy, causes you pain, lifts your heart, lift all of that up to God in prayer. A relationship depends on communication. God is waiting to listen to you, and He desires to speak.