Forming Good Prayer Habits is Vital to a Healthy Relationship with God

Relationship experts often tell us that good communication is essential to a healthy and strong relationship. We are always reminded by professionals to find time to talk to our partner, children, parents, friends and even co-workers on a regular basis to maintain and even strengthen the bond that we share with them.

A lot of couples I know have created their own strategies to make sure that time is spent on quality conversations. For instance, one of my friends and his husband have this rule of not taking any smart phone, tablet, or laptop to bed to make sure that they spend pre-bedtime hours talking to each other. I think their idea is wonderful, don’t you?

It is important for us to create these tactics to make sure that we get time to talk to the people we love, and it is also vital that we have good prayer habits that will keep us close and connected to our Heavenly Father. In this post entitled, A Beginner’s Guide to Praying, the writer shares how she developed a robust prayer life. I picked up a few things from the post that I think are worthy of emulating in my own prayer life. Check the post out and you might find one or two nuggets of inspiration too.

Should We Pray for Our Desires or God’s Will?

How should we pray? Should we just ask God to do His will, or should we ask Him for what we need?

This subject has always been confusing to me. As a Catholic, I understand that the best way to live my life is to constantly seek the will of God in all things. However, the Bible also mentions that it is right for us–children of God–to ask Him for what we want and need. As a matter of fact, in Philippians 4:6, the apostle Paul counsels us to “..not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Today, God has used Father Dwight Longenecker to bring me enlightenment on this very matter. In his post, The Importance and Power of Prayer, he explained just how important it is for us to pray for both our specific needs and for God’s will. He also beautifully expounded the great power that can be unleashed by joining our will with that of our heavenly Father’s.

How Should We Pray?

I remember when I wondered for the first time whether it was best to pray with eyes shut or open. I was only a child then, but I have often revisited the same thought. My memories on the matter were revived after stumbling onto this post: Eyes Wide Shut Prayer?

Like the rest of my family, I have always been an “apophatic prayer”–someone who closes their eyes, bows their head, and folds their hands when praying. At an early age, I realized that not all people pray the way my family and I do. Since then, I have always wondered which way of praying was actually right. However, over the years, I was brought to the realization that it isn’t really important whether people chose to pray with their eyes shut or wide open.

How one prays is a personal thing.  Prayer is our way of talking to God, and it should not be in any way stiff and stringent. Instead, we should pray in a way that we feel would best draw us near to Him. I feel comfortable and more connected to God praying with my eyes closed, but in no way will I insist that you must follow my way of praying. I believe that it is important that each of us pray as we see fit.

Certainly, God does not concern Himself with the manner with which we pray–kneeling, standing, lying down, eyes open, or eyes shut–but looks at what is inside our thoughts and hearts.

Prayer is the Fuel That Keeps Us Going

Prayer is the fuel that keeps us going. Prayer is something that you should make time for each and every day in your life. It is something that should be just as natural as breathing, eating food, and drinking water. It is also just as vital to your existence. Prayer can keep you going even in the darkest of times, and provides you a peaceful time to share with God.

An article from Catholic Mom titled, “Prayer Keeps Us Working”, echoes this sentiment. I thought the post was really awesome and I wanted to share it with all of you. The author Tacy talks about how you may not always feel like praying, but prayer is a discipline. She stressed the importance of making time in your life to pray. Tacy also talks about not abandoning prayer for “the sake of perfectionistic pride”, and that resonated with me. You may not always feel as though your prayers did anything special, but that is not the point. Keep praying always!

Pray the Rosary, Don’t Just Say the Rosary

Praying the rosary is something that we should all be doing more often. A lot of people simply say the prayers though, and this is not the purpose of the rosary. You should feel something deeper than just the words coming out of your mouth. The words should resonate inside of you and make you feel something more. I read a post with tips to help you pray not just say the rosary and I thought it was really awesome.

Some of the tips on this post included one claiming less is more. What they mean is that instead of rushing your way through the entire rosary, it would be a lot better to say only a decade or two and make it more thoughtful. They also suggest saying each prayer more slowly and clearly, as if you were speaking to God rather than blurting out the words. There are a lot more tips in this post, and if you need some more reasons to make praying the rosary more of a habit then I suggest reading them.

Inspirational Moments That are Fueled by God

I read a post on a blog called Ignitum Today that I thought was really cool. The post was called, “Kickboxing and Moments of Grace“. The author talked about her experience at Mass this past Sunday. The responsorial psalm was Psalm 54, and the response was about the Lord lighting their life. She reflected on what this meant to her personally, and I found her words to be inspirational. She also went on to talk about how she has taken up kickboxing, and saying a quick prayer before class has helped her a lot.

I know personally I can relate to being tired and not wanting to exercise. I’m going to try a quick prayer the next time I have no motivation to exercise and I know I will feel revitalized and ready to go!

Daily Prayer, per Chris Pirillo

Thank you Chris Pirillo for the laugh today!

We Hope No One Hears Us!

Silence Doesn’t Always Mean Somethings Wrong

Why, when my husband tells me that when he’s quiet doesn’t mean somethings wrong, don’t I believe him?

So what if my nickname is “Chatty Cathy” and so what if I love to chat? Well what’s wrong, as I’ve come to believe, is that you CAN’T listen and talk at the same time. I am a Master of Multitasking (in my humble opinion) but this one has me beat. To truly be present in silence is the best way to listen for God to speak to you.

Unfortunately I have always been someone who starts a sentence before the person I’m speaking with finishes theirs. Honestly I have only recently realized how often I do this. In my heart I’m not trying to be rude and I don’t think what I have to say is more important than their words, it’s just that I worry that I’ll lose what I want to say. I know that does sound rude, doesn’t it? I’m working on this. I figure if I lose my train of thought, it couldn’t have been worth much anyway. It’s kind of like the saying “If you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was!. So my ideas, thoughts, comments or whatever… if important, will come back. More importantly if I listen more intently I might not have to think of something else to say, just listen.

I have come to appreciate the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi more when he says “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words”. Whether or not St. Francis actually spoke these words doesn’t matter now, it’s the point. We do not always have to speak to preach the Gospel. It’s in our deeds, it’s in our prayers and most importantly it should be in our hearts. I need to get out of my head more as that what gets my mouth in trouble.

Do you have trouble with silence? Are you able to fully meditate and await what God might be trying to put on your heart by putting it into your head first? I’m trying, please pray for me to accept silence as the blessing is truly is.

Seeking Advent Patience

The following comes from Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas – Waiting in Joyful Hope 2011-2012 by Jay Cormier which is published each year by Liturgical Press.

I was given this little “pocket book” as an Advent gift by the Deacon that runs our Scripture class each week. This book is such a lovely way to focus on Advent and the waiting for Christmas. Each day you’re given the readings, a theme from the scripture is then reflected upon. Following the reflection Mr. Cormier provides questions to ponder (meditation) and finishes with a prayer for each day.

This little booklet has helped me in my daily prayer life as he helps you dig a little deeper into the readings for each day. Rather than try to give you the jist of the book I’ll give you a snapshot of Friday, December 9th in the Second Week of Advent. I chose this day as it touches on our daily hectic lives and how we can better accept Advent as a time of preparation and waiting.

Readings: Isaiah 48:17-19; Matthew 11:16-19

Scripture: “(W)isdom is vindicated by her works.” (Matthew 11:19)

Reflection: We are not a very patient people. We can’t spare the time to stop and catch our breath. Quiet unnerves us; silence is a sure sigh that something is wrong; reflection and thoughtfulness are luxuries. We do not live in the moment–we live in the next moment.

We need to be constantly connected, online, and plugged in.
We are terrified of being bored.
We are in a constant hurry–and yet we do not get very far.
We struggle to walk between the austere, demanding John at the Jordan and the Jesus who welcomes and forgives all.
Too often we let our fears and doube3ts, our cynicism and fatalism, affect our decision making. We are defeated by what is not rather than inspired by what could be.
For all our technology, we are disconnected.
For all our global outreach, we know little beyond our own little plot of earth.
For all our education, we fail to realize what is good and right in our midst.

Advent calls us to patience– not patience that passively accepts without complaint whatever disappoints us, but patience that is certain in the hope of better things to come. In criticizing the fickleness of this “generations,” Jesus points out that wisdom begins with such patience: to stop, to reflect, to see what is hidden, to listen with the heart. These days of Advent are a microcosm of our lives, revealing to us the preciousness of time and confronting us with our mortality. May these days teach us to realize the sacred in our lives, to behold God’s love in the midst of our family and friends, to embrace the patience of Advent in order to see our lives and work through the eyes of God.

Meditation: What issues and concerns most test your patience? Reconsider how you respond and how you view the situation in question.

Prayer: Lord of Advent, may your wisdom illuminate our eyes and open our hearts to behold your presence in our midst. Help us to embrace the grace of Advent patience, that we may stop and behold your compassion and mercy in our days and transform our lives in the peace and hope of your dawning at Christmas.

If you are like me, the observation that some of us consider silence as a sign of something being wrong hit a chord. I am becoming more aware of the blessing of silence in that you can find peace and be open to what God could be trying to tell you if you (me) would be quiet and listen. That’s something I truly am working on this Advent. I no longer need to be talking or “plugged in” every moment that I’m awake.

I hope you enjoy this Advent Reflections as much as I have. Please share any books that you use to help with your daily prayer.

Blessings,
Cathi D.
cathid@mycatholicblog.com

Feast of the Nativity

This article from A Nun’s Life was a great one about Mary from yesterday’s Feast of the Nativity. If you would like to check out the full version of the article please, click here. Mary is one of the most important figures of the Catholic Church and we should all try a little harder to remember her in our daily lives. Hopefully yesterday you said a quick prayer to her in remembrance of the Feast of the Nativity. If you didn’t then you should take some time right now to do that!

“Today we celebrate the birth of Mary. Although scripture says nothing about the circumstances of her birth, it is rich in stories about her adult life. The stories are the source of lots of images and titles for Mary. One of the best known is Theotokos, the God-Bearer.

I love this particular image of Mary and what it symbolizes. For Mary, “God-bearing” wasn’t a one-time event. It didn’t end when Jesus was born. Mary witnessed to God’s goodness and kindness with her whole life. Scripture tells of many times when Mary stepped in to help others, sometimes asking her son to lend a hand too, as in the wedding feast at Cana. She cared for the people in her life and was a faithful friend, mother, and wife. To me, the image of Mary as God-Bearer reminds me that we all have the capacity to be “God-bearers” through the compassion and love we extend to others. So, my birthday gift to Mary is the extra special attention I’ll give to being the best God-bearer I can today.

What images of Mary have special meaning for you? How will you celebrate Mary’s birthday?” – “Feast of the Nativity of Mary”, A Nun’s Life