One Sunday morning a few years ago, I believe that the Holy Spirit was speaking through a young Dominican priest when he challenged all of us sitting in the pew to consider reading the last section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the topic of prayer. Why had I not done this before? It is like a handbook on deepening and developing a prayer life directly from the Church, and a wealth of insight for us as we live in a society that does not hold Christian prayer in high esteem. When I took the time out to do just that, it seemed like the words jumped right off the page and left me not only inspired but ready to make some real changes in my life.
“We must remember God more often than we draw breath. But we can not pray “at all times” if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it.”
What I came to appreciate was that without Christian prayer in my life I was far less useful to the Kingdom of God and admittedly I was missing out on the insights and graces God wanted to grant.
When we don’t take time out for regular prayer, we cannot see God’s plan for our life. In many ways, it would be like walking around with foggy glasses. Christian prayer is what gives us the ability be in an active relationship with our God, and Savior, and see His will playing out in very own life and those around us. Our “God lenses” allows us to remain steady in our faith even when life is challenging and demanding.
As I continued to read and learn about prayer, I was reminded that “Prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpourings of the interior impulse; in order to pray, one must have the will to pray…one must learn how to pray.” It went on to say that “Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment.” I remember reading this passage and realizing that most of my prayers at this time in my life were precisely that, impromptu, spur of the moment, an outpouring of my heart, which was great for getting things off my chest, but the reality was I was more or less the only one talking. This relationship is similar to a one-sided friend, I wasn’t allowing God to speak to me, but instead, I was doing all the talking.
5 Practical Ideas for Growing in Our Christian Prayer Life
- Read the Catechism on prayer: have you ever done that?
- Set time aside to pray: as individuals, pray as a family and pray with your community
- Attend Mass more often or recommit to praying and paying attention during Mass. Our Catholic liturgy is a prayer! Learn to appreciate what Christ has given us at the Last Supper: the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, the source, and summit of ecclesial life.
- Seek out the help of the Holy Spirit to grow in your faith life. Say the words “Come Holy Spirit, Help Me” in times of trouble or times of transition.
- Get up and go. Set a goal to attend a retreat or Catholic conference, start to attend a Bible Study, or make a regular commitment to Adoration.
May the Holy Spirit touch your heart and renew you in your Catholic Faith so that you can go forth to love and serve others.