Back to Basics: How to Pray

(Happy St. Joseph’s Day!)

“How do I pray,” is a loaded question. Prayer means different things to different people, and God knows there are tons of books about prayer. Even Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray.

Back to Basics: How to pray

So, if you really want to learn how to pray, ask Jesus to give you the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray! He will teach us to pray, if we keep asking and by showing our readiness by actually taking the time to pray.

Here are three ideas on how to pray to get you started:

1. Liturgical Prayer

The Mass is foremost and central to our Catholic faith. It is so important Mother Church made going to church every Sunday (and special holy days) an obligation. This isn’t to make us feel like “we have to go” to Mass. Mass is the ultimate prayer! It brings us to the Cross, and through the Mass, we sacramentally receive the very body and blood of Jesus. If you want to learn how to pray, take your clue from the Mass and the other sacraments.

2. Devotionals or Prayer books

If you are struggling the pray, going through a dry spell, or just can’t find the words, use a devotional or prayer-book. There are A LOT of them out there, any of which are scripture based. There are many that are written by the saints. Really, there are so many kinds of devotionals out there that one is bound to resonate with you. And, don’t forget the Bible! Praying the scriptures is a wonderful way to pray and I will be devoting a whole post (FB Live) dedicated to Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures.

If you don’t want to use a book, you can pray other traditional prayers such as the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or Hail Holy Queen.

3. Use a Formula

There really isn’t a formula, per se for prayer but you may have heard of the acronym ACTS. ACTS stands for Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication. If you look at the Our Father, the prayer Jesus gave to His disciples, it has elements of these in the prayer. (For the interest of time and space, I will leave it to you to pray through the Our Father Yourself and pick out the elements).

This acronym gives a balanced way for praying. Do you notice that adoration, contrition, and thanksgiving come BEFORE supplication? So often, the majority of our prayer consists of asking for things – things for ourselves and things for other people. But, that should be last.

The majority of our prayer should consist of adoring God and praising Him, showing sorrow for our sins and the sins of others, and thanking Him for all the blessings and graces He showers upon us daily. Only then should we petition Him for our needs.

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EDT and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EDT. I hope you will join me! Today (Monday), I will expound some more on today’s topic of how to pray and sharing a couple more ways to pray. Be there!

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

Back to Basics: Obstacles to Prayer

Did you ever notice that when you want to start something, a hobby, a diet, an exercise program, etc., things start to magically get in the way? It is like the obstacles just come out of thin air! This can be true when embarking on a regular prayer schedule.

So, In yesterday’s Facebook Go Live, I talked about what these obstacles are and gave some suggestions on  how to overcome them. Here are three of the most pressing obstacles I’ve come across.

Some obstacles we face include:

1. Discouragement

When we pray and don’t seem to get the answer we want or we don’t think God is answering us quickly enough, we can become discouraged. Or, maybe we feel lie our prayer is not effective and we want to give up. Don’t!

God’s ways are not our ways and we need to trust that God knows what He is doing. God always answers us, even if the answer is no. And, prayer is always effective. As humans, we have a habit of basing a lot (too much) on emotions but God is above our emotions. He wants us to go beyond the need for “signs” and “miracles” into a deeper connection of the wills.

2. No time

I think the number one reason people neglect prayer is because they don’t think they have the time. However, the truth is, the busier you are, the more you need to be grounded in prayer. And, truth be told, if I can give a little tough love, we all make time for the things that are important to us. It is a matter of priorities and finding the time.

3. Temptations

Temptations are all around us. I remember when I was young and being told to “rebuke the devil, the flesh, and the world” in order to resist temptations. Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t believe the devil is real. They think he is a myth. The devil is real and the last thing he wants is for us to pray and turn to God, so it is important that we are aware and vigilant against his wiles. The flesh is where laziness, gluttony, and pleasures come in. The can seduce us away from the desire and will to pray. Finally, the “world” tries to steal us from God and prayer. It bedazzles us with the show of glamour and riches and living a “wild” lifestyle – a lifestyle away from God. We must keep watch and not let today’s society lure us into its snares.

(To be clear, money and riches, in and of themselves are not evil. They are neutral. It is the inordinate desire and pursuit of them that can become evil if we lose site of God and His plan for our lives.)

How to Overcome Those Obstacles

These (and other) obstacles to prayer may seem insurmountable but they aren’t. All is possible with God, including working through those obstacles. Here are some suggestions to help you:

A: Be patient: Overcoming obstacles won’t happen overnight. Every day, take what steps you can to work through your prayer difficulties and don’t allow yourself to get annoyed or bothered by the obstacles you face.

B: Persevere: Don’t give up! Just because we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t mean it isn’t there! Again, slow and steady wins the race, so do your best to pray every day, trust in God, and know that your efforts will produce fruit.

C: Get Help: You don’t have to try and deal with the obstacles you face alone. Get yourself an accountability partner, spiritual director, or life coach that you can trust and use that person to help you work through any issues or situations that get in the way of you having a consistent and fulfilling prayer life.

Whatever your do: I encourage you to fight through the obstacles of prayer head on. Ask God for the grace to help you overcome the obstacles to prayer. He will! And, I will pray for you. May God Bless you!

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EST and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EST. I hope you will join me!

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

Back to Basics: Types of Prayer

We are going back to basics again and reminding ourselves about the different types of prayer that are available.

Back to Basics Types of Prayer

There are many ways to pray to suit our every need. There are some who prefer to pray with with others and those who like to pray alone. If you find that prayer is becoming “boring” or monotonous, maybe trying a different type of prayer will motivate you and “shake things up” a bit.

Vocal Prayer

This is the most common and used type of prayer. Vocal prayer is when we say the Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory Be, etc.

Vocal Prayer is also when we just speak from the heart. For the most part, Catholics aren’t great at spontaneous prayer (I’m not!) but we should work at this. Previously, I mentioned that prayer is a conversation with God and part of that is talking to God openly and spontaneously.

Aspirations

Aspirations are very short prayers, usually one word or sentence, that allow us to lift up our hearts to God briefly. “Jesus, I love You.” “Jesus, I trust in you.” “Jesus.” “Lord, have mercy.” “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you. Save souls and unborn children.” These are all examples of an aspiration.

Communal Prayer

Obviously, communal prayer is when two or more people come together to pray. For example: Going to Mass, celebrating the other Sacraments, prayer services, bible studies, spiritual direction, etc.

Private Prayer

As the name implies, private prayer is prayer that we do alone. 🙂 This can include vocal prayer, meditation, and/or contemplation.

Journaling

Yes, journaling can be prayer. In fact, having a prayer journal is a great way to deepen our prayer life. Rather than chronicling our day or stresses, etc., with prayer journaling, we write out our heart to God through freewriting or writing letters to God. Or, you can get creative and write God a poem, a song, draw him pictures, etc. It may make prayer something fun for you, too.

Spiritual Reading

My favorite type of spiritual reading is Lectio Divina, or praying the scriptures slowly and letting the words penetrate your heart.

However, there are many other books that can be read in a prayerful way, especially ones that offer meditations and reflections.

Meditation

Meditation is very similar to mental prayer. You take a small passage of scripture or spiritual concept (for example: heaven) and spend some time  quietly thinking about it. You take the place of a character (s) of the bible passage or you think deeply about the concept. (For example, what is heaven like? What does it mean to be with God in heaven, etc.)

This is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2705) describes Meditation:

Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.”

Contemplation

With contemplation, which is often seen as similar to meditation, goes deeper. Whereas, with meditation there is thinking involved, but with contemplation, you “let go and let God.” You (try to) empty you minds and hearts of all that is not God and let Him love you and fill your soul.

Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2724) describes contemplation:

Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery.

Normally, although God can do what He wants!, contemplation is an advanced form of prayer and comes forth from time spent in meditation and other forms of prayer.

Ultimately, prayer is all about God and our relationship with Him. There are those who never achieve deep meditation or contemplation and there are those who achieve an extremely deep prayer life within a short time. It boiled down to God’s grace and our willingness to respond to that grace.

Prayer is also a gift from God. Only the Holy Spirit can inspire us to pray, to help us to pray, and to be faithful with prayer. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray and gives us the ability to pray. Come Holy Spirit!

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EDT and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EDT. I hope you will join me! Tomorrow I am going to talk about the obstacles to prayer and how to overcome them. DIFFERENT TIME: ABOUT 2:00 PM EDT. (My son has his homeschool book club and it may run late again.)

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

Back to Basics: Prayer Space

Heads up: In TOMMOROW’s* Facebook live (12:30pm EDT), I will be talking about they whys and hows of setting up a prayer space.

I will cover:

What is a prayer space?

What if I don’t have the space/room for one?

Is having a prayer space essential?

How do I set up a prayer space?

And more…

So, join me tomorrow in the Catholic Women’s Prayer and Encouragement Facebook Group!

*My husband is home today (yay!) and he isn’t the most quiet so I am going to go live tomorrow when he is back to work. 🙂

Back to Basics: Silence

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I will never forget the day Andrew “shh-ed” everyone in Church. 🙂 He was four or five-years-old at the time and we were still living in Ohio. We had come back to New Jersey for a visit and were in Church for a First Holy Communion.

While waiting for Mass to begin, a lot of people, including some family members behind us, were talking. Hearing the chatter, a person would think that there was a party going on, rather than a Church service about to begin. All of a sudden, Andrew stands up, turns around, and says,

“Shhh! We are in Church!”

Then he turned and sat down.

The people sitting around us were quiet for a moment and then began giggling and talking about how cute and funny Andrew was for what he said. It was adorable and cute, however, I think they missed the point.

Ding, Ding, Ding

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m NOT condemning anyone, or saying that it is wrong to talk in Church, or that we should go back to the days of absolute silence in Church. I’m just as guilty as everyone else when it comes to talking in Church sometimes.

However, have you noticed just how LOUD our world has become, both literally and metaphorically? We are constantly bombarded with TV, radio, social media, news, and other noises. So much so, in fact, that we don’t even take some time before the Sacred Liturgy to compose ourselves and prepare our hearts for meeting the Lord. On top of that, we also live very busy lives running here and there, taking care of family, and fulfilling our many obligations. These are all great things but when we talk, talk, talk, and go, go, go, it becomes impossible to listen. More importantly, it becomes almost impossible to hear God speak to us.

God WANTS to speak to us. He wants to heal us and minister to us but He can’t do that if we don’t take the time to settle down and tune in and listen for His voice. More than that, we NEED to spend time in silence in order to recharge our batteries and fill up our souls. We all know the saying, “we can’t give what we don’t have.” If we don’t take the time to fill our souls, listening to God in the silence of our hearts, we will burn out.

Prerequisite for Prayer

That’s why I really want to encourage you to find a way to make time for silence. Believe me, I know you are busy, but if you can get up even 15 minutes earlier to spend in silence (and prayer), I guarantee it will make a difference in your life.

Ultimately, we need silence in order to be successful with prayer. Sure, it is possible to pray when there is noise. We are called to pray at all times and, naturally, most of the time there will be some sort of background noise; however, it is absolutely essential to regularly block out some time for silent prayer. I strongly encourage you to consider to take up the battle for silence!

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EST and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EST. I hope you will join me! Tomorrow, I will be talking about the prerequisites for prayer AND the two types of silence you should strive for.

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I am here to help. Supporting and empowering women is my passion and I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

Going Back to the Basics: What is Prayer?

What is prayer? Why is it important?

Back to Basics What is Prayer

If you are new to being a Christian, or more specifically, new to being a Catholic Christian, these are important questions.

If you are long-time Catholic Christian, they are equally important questions!

Prayer is the absolute foundation of the Christian life. It is how we encounter God and allow him to enter into our life.

Therefore, as we are now in the 3rd week of Lent, we are going to start focusing on prayer: the what, the why, the how and when, and even the where.

Today, in my weekly Go Live (in my Catholic Prayer and Encouragement Group) I am going to focus on defining prayer and reminding us on why prayer is important. So join me in the group this morning about 10:35 am EST.

 

Is There A Rosary Rally Near You This Saturday?

Did you know that this Saturday, October 14, there will be a world-wide rosary rally in honor of the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima? Now you do!

If you want to participate, you can get more information here and find out where the nearest rally for you is, here. If you are local to the Jersey Shore, come pray with us at St. Jerome Church, 254 Wall Street, West Long Branch, NJ.

The rosary is such a powerful prayer and to pray it with others is even more powerful. I hope you will join us!

God bless.

Rosary Rally

photo credit: Courtney Emery via photopin cc

How to Pray the Angelus (The Angel of the Lord)

Are you familiar with the Angelus? Traditionally, Catholics pray the Angelus three times a day: 6am, 12pm, 6pm. Some Catholics pray the prayer just at noon, which is great too.

How to Pray the Angelus

Image by karigamb08 (2016) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

This prayer is so beautiful and would make a great personal novena. If you are looking to sneak in some prayer into your busy schedule, this would be a great prayer to start with.

The Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

Hail Mary, full of grace…

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 

Hail Mary, full of grace . . . 

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 

Hail Mary, full of grace . . . 

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen. 

The Miracle Prayer

The following prayer was passed out during the Women’s Conference that I attended in December. I have no idea where it came from or who wrote it but think it is a perfect prayer to pray as we get into the New Year.

The Miracle Prayer

I recommend you find a quiet place and pray the Miracle Prayer slowly and with intention. Let the Lord’s love surround you and fill your soul.

The Miracle prayer

“Lord Jesus, I come before You just as I am. I am sorry for my sins. I repent of my sins, please forgive me. In Your Name, I forgive all others for what they have done against me.

(Pause for a short time here and allow the Holy Spirit to bring to mind anyone you need to forgive. When He does, for each person say out loud, I forgive. Then continue the prayer.)

I renounce satan, the evil spirits and all their works. I give you my entire self. Lord Jesus, now and forever, I invite You into my life. Jesus, I accept You as my Lord, God and Savior. Heal me, change me, strengthen me, and deliver me in body, soul, mind, and spirit.

Come Lord Jesus, cover me with Your precious blood and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I love you, Lord Jesus. I praise You, Lord Jesus. I thank You, Lord Jesus. I shall follow You every day of my life.

Amen”

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Tweetable: The Miracle Prayer

A Prayer for our Veterans

(Repost)

A Prayer for Veterans

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

God of peace, we pray for those who have served our nation and have laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.

We pray for those who have fought, whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted by memories too painful for the light of day.

We pray for those who serve us now, especially for those in harm’s way.
Shield them from danger and bring them home.

Turn the hearts and minds of our leaders and our enemies to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.

Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

May the peace you left us, the peace you gave us, be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!

Amen.

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Tweetable: Prayer for Veterans

(Prayer written by Concord Pastor)

Here is a video tribute to our soldiers: