Wednesday, November 17, 2010

on prayer...

... I remember the hardest thing about prayer was actually doing it. In fact, it still is. Growing up prayer was never a routine in my childhood. As a young adult it was never a consideration either. Prayer was foreign and strange.

When I converted, and while I was converting, I continued to struggle with prayer. I didn't know that sometimes, yes, it will be dry. Yes it will feel like a perfunctory gesture devoid of any heartfelt sentiment. Yes, at times it will even feel like the most arduous chore of the day. I knew nothing of prayer. In fact, still, my basic knowledge of prayer is rudimentary.

I remember the awkwardness of praying. I was embarrassed to pray in public at restaurants before meals. I hated praying in groups. I didn't want anyone to see that I didn't know how to pray.

Prayer was something I needed to grow into. Something I needed to practice. When The Boy was born I forced myself to pray with him every day. I wanted prayer to be as natural to him as breathing. My goal was, and still is, to help my son become as comfortable going to God for his needs as he was coming to me.

I'm not a perfect parent by any stretch. There are days when the most pious I get is updating blog. And more often than not it is The Boy who reminds me to pray. I just wanted to encourage parents out there today. Pray with your children not matter how long or crappy your day was and all you want to do is veg out in front of the TV and not think about your annoying co-workers or tyrannical boss. It doesn't matter that your heart's not in it. Don't worry about feeling like a hypocrite. That's the devil trying to discourage you from praying with your family.

Be encouraged. Pray. For yourself, but mostly for your children. Pray.


3puddytats said...

The best way to pray --at least for me--especially when I am feeling down and words fail me--is to sing..especially a joyful song such "Praise to the Lord the Almighty the King of Creation," or "Immaculate Mary", or even children's song such as "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know." Don't worry about it being perfect or in tune--you are singingto God, not to anyone else..

Memorize one or two favorite songs and you will always have a prayer handy :)


Pablo said...

When you pray the Holy Rosary, you are walking in the garden of Heaven with our mother; take your child with you.

Early Christians were required to sing the one hundred and fifty Psalms each day; as they worked, traveled, and so on.

The Holy Mother changed this to the one hundred and fifty Hail Marys.

Christ was scourged one hundred and fifty times.

When we say one hundred and fifty "I'm sorrys" in the Holy Rosary, our Mothers heart is softened towards us.

Download the Holy Rosary in English or Spanish on my website and listen to it on the way to work.

Many of us that neglect prayer use this method to get some in.

And it’s provided free.

Let me know what you think about this idea, please.

I stole the boy praying picture to use on my blog when I redo it. great inspirational picture.



Just another mad Catholic said...

What if prayer doesn't seem to work?

I've been praying for nearly six mounths for one intention and the best part of a year for another and neither of them have been answered (I'm not asking for a fleet of sports cars and a mansion if that what you're thinking).

I know they are both condemmed as heresies but sometimes I begin to think that the calvinists and Jansenists conception of God is correct and that he is a capricious being who just goes eeny meney mini mo and takes pleasure in watching us suffer.

Christopher Lake said...

Beautiful post-- honest and beautiful. Thank you, Kat. I'm not the best pray-er in the world, or in my state/city, and probably not even in my neighborhood. I struggle with prayer. Thank you for the encouragement to persevere.

Christopher Lake said...

Just another mad Catholic,

I struggle too. I try to remember that "Wait" and "No" (for God's own good, if mysterious, reasons) are answers to prayer too, along with "Yes." It's not easy though. Hang in there. God is not capricious, and he takes no pleasure in our suffering. I don't speak lightly here-- I'm a 37-year-old man with a physical disability who has had much emotional pain in my life. God loves us. His love isn't always expressed in ways that we can quickly, easily discern, but He does love us. That is evident from the Cross, from the good, obedient priests, Bishops, and Pope whom He has given us, and from the capacity that we have to encourage each other in this life. God bless you (I truly mean that).

Pablo said...

A woman had prayed on behalf of her miserable husband everyday during their thirty five year marriage.

He comitted suicide by jumping off a bridge.

Saint John Vianney told her the Lord did answer her prayers.

"Just before your husband hit the water, he did a perfect act of contrition."

What is a hundred years of daily prayer compared to an eternity of happiness in Heaven?

God answers your prayers even before they come out of your mouth.


Piotrek said...

Just another mad Catholic, you're not doing it right.

Just another mad Catholic said...

So piotrek how am I "not doing it right" ?

I used to say all 15 decades of the Rosary; I still bring my intentions before God at Holy Mass each day, I am a daily communicant and go to confession at least once a week.

Please do tell me how I should pray because I would really appreciate being told the missing ingrediant which prevents my prayers from being answered.

Christopher Lake said...

Mad Catholic, I am almost certain that piotrek was being sarcastic, giving a sadly familiar "bad Christian answer."

Seriously, who says that your prayers are not being answered? My prayers for healing from my physical disability were clearly answered. The answer: Not in this life, seemingly, so I offer it up. My prayers for marriage have, thus far, resulted in an answer of "No (at least not yet)," which has led me to both self-examination and the speculation that perhaps I am not meant to be married, though I still long for it (sometimes... it becomes less so as time continues...).

3puddytats said...

Mad Catholic--

One way to approach prayer, rather than by blatant requests,--gimme gimme gimme-- is more like "Show me the way, Lord."

Then shut up and listen...God's plan for our life is not necessarily the plan that we want for ourselves...we may be so focused on a narrow path that WE want to follow that we don't see the side path that God opens up for us.

Like the posters have said, "No" and "Later" are also answers to prayers.

Try also spending as much time in prayer for praise and thanksgiving for God many blessings in your life...say a weekly rosary in thanksgiving...also pray for others...

My grandmother had a deal with God...she knew that there were many people out inthe world in situations or who had no one to pray for them...upon rising inthe morning as part of her morning prayer she would ask God to apply all of her prayers throughout the day to some poor individual of His choosing who needed prayer....she was extremely blessed throughout her life.

It also gets you out of the poor poor pitiful me state...

If you really feel that your prayer life is going nowhere definitely seek some spiritual direction outside confession, with a director who can ask you the tough questions and get your prayer life more focused.

Prayer is not easy..please don't get of th ehardest questions new folks in RCIA ask me (especially the formerly unchurched) is "How do I pray??"

Prayers your way... Sara

3puddytats said...

Another thing I do when I find myself getting a little discouraged is this (imaginary)scene I play through my head, concerning Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta and her dark night of the soul--how it MIGHT have went :
God: My dear child--I have an assignment for will go to the most wretched place on earth and care for my dear forgotten children--the poorest of the poor...the sick, the dying, the cast aside..I will provide you anything you need--just ask--money, property, houses, medicine, doctors, religious sisters, volunteers, wealthy patrons, the prayers of the millions of Catholics on your behalf--to care for my forgotten children. It will not be easy, but I know you can do it...blessings to you my daughter..and I'll check back with you in a hundred years or so...


shadowlands said...

Crescat! You're doing fine! Stop letting the old nick knock you back. I identify with your struggle, each and evey day. The only time the problem comes, at least to my experience, is when himself (old nick, the devil) has stopped tormenting you. That means he no longer fears your prayers. I've posted a side bar of the rosary mysteries, on my blog. I log in most days, intending to go straight to it. Guess how many times I log in to something else? I prefer staring to praying. Believe that. I have to kick my own arse into gear for most things.
Jesus knows this, He isn't preparing a scaffold, just self acknowledment of weakness, and extra request of grace. It will start to grow then.If the going gets tough ( and it will darling daughter of God, for you, yet I sense you know that already)the tough just learn to struggle more, with the enemy, using the Grace of God. It's just like cooking really, but takes more energy. You won't give up. God told me that. That's why I didn't need to say, don't, give up.

Piotrek said...

"And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who tresspass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.' " Matthew 6

I couldn't have said it better myself. Spend 15 minutes on that one prayer alone. It's guaranteed to be answered, especially that part about God's will being done. You probably don't need what you think you need to be a saint (that's a legitimate answer you need to ponder).

Lee Gilbert said...

Just Another Mad Catholic-

You want some things from God. Maybe God wants some things from you, perhaps a closer relationship, more time with you. Perhaps he wants you to ratchet up your prayer life.

Perhaps there is some disobedinece in your life that he wants you to repent of, a relationship that should be repaired, some softness that he wants sloughed off.

Perhaps he wants you to grow in faith and wants to hear from you expressions of faith and trust rather than doubt, even when it seems like there is a wall of brass between you and Heaven: "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." "I hope in you, help my despair.." "I love you, help my coldness."

You want two things, but the Lord wants a holier you, so He has thrown a challenge at you. In response to a similar question, Padre Pio said, "It's a game of love." Mad Catholic, play the game!

Just another mad Catholic said...

lee gilbert

I crave intimacy with God; unfortunately it seems that he doesn't want to return my calls.


I'm praying for the conversion of my family and a job so I can pay my student debts and enter religious life - not exactly gimme gimmie gimmie.

Invictus_88 said...

Just another mad Catholic,

I hope things improve for you soon. Remember too to pray for strength, faith, and guidance.