As a twenty-two-year-old, I stood in front of a confirmation class and gave the most moving talk about prayer….or so I thought. I hit all the right speaking points; sharing the importance of spending time in prayer each day, and how to use prayer as a casual way to converse with the Lord. But if someone were to ask my younger self “what is prayer?” I would not have been able to define it.
After researching and reading the insight of multiple saints I came to the conclusion that prayer can be simply defined as the essential building block for our relationship with God. You can not know God if you do not spend time with God. St. John Damascene said, "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God."
If you are anything like me, it is one thing to know what something is, but it is another thing to know how to do it. Back then, I fell into a rut of treating my prayer life as a homework assignment. I was fortunate enough to be in multiple bible studies but I was too prideful to admit to the other college-aged women that I didn’t pray….so I would fumble through my bible or half-heartedly pray a rosary. Unfortunately, nothing really ever stemmed from the authenticity of my heart. At the time I felt extremely hypocritical. But the truth is, I simply did not know how to pray!
Can you relate? This is a common narrative among those of us who grew us as cradle Catholics. We have been surrounded by the faith our whole life but never really taught how to personally claim a relationship with the Lord through prayer. I had to be taught how to pray and had to seek out formation in order to deepen my relationship with Christ.
I find comfort in knowing that the disciples, the men closest to Jesus, also needed help with prayer. In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 11 we read about the disciples asking Jesus how to pray.
He responds through the common words we all know;
Father, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Give us each day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins
For we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
And do not subject us to the final test.*
Jesus then assures his disciples,
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you, For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.*
Through the guidance of sisters and other spiritual mentors, I was taught to spend time with the daily mass readings and ask Jesus to illuminate what He wanted to say to me through scripture. Lectio Divina became a daily practice and my heart was enflamed with reading spiritual books and listening to Catholic podcasts. I was educated on how to meditate while praying the rosary and other rote prayers instead of reciting them without a thought.
It has taken years of practice to confidently say that I know how to pray! I love to look back and reflect on all of the ways that I have asked for and received greater blessings than imaginable from the Lord. There have been so many areas in my life that I had to seek before finding the correct path God had in store for me and noticing all of the doors the Lord has opened after I knocked.
Prayer is a daily practice that takes time to exercise and craft. It is not something we are meant to navigate on our own. To this day, I am still asking spiritual mentors for guidance when I feel like I am at a plateau. If you ever find yourself in a similar rut or would like some prayerful guidance, do not hesitate to reach out to us here at Catholic Country Chronicles. We are always praying for you and would love to assist in any way we can!
Until next time~your sister in Christ,