“Man has a noble task: That of prayer and love. To pray and love, that is the happiness of man on earth.” – St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney
Make Prayer a Priority
From an early age I can remember having very personal talks with Jesus. Looking back on my life I cannot think of a time in which I was not praying in a personal way to God. Even though prayer has always been a part of my life, it has not been until the last five or so that prayer has become the absolute foundation of everything. I have always prayed, but it was sporadic. My prayer life was a roller coaster of ups and downs based on the circumstances of my life. Even though I would never have admitted it; prayer was not a real priority.
Once personal prayer became a priority in my life, I finally began to mature as a disciple of Jesus. My starting point was mental prayer with the Bible. Eventually I felt compelled to go to daily Mass. Soon I was motivated to go to Confession on a more regular basis. My devotion to Mary and the Rosary grew. I began to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I sought out a Spiritual Director. All of this became a reality for me because I made prayer the center of my life.
For Missionary Disciples who are called to love others into a relationship with Jesus and the Church, personal prayer must be the starting point. You cannot give what you do not have. You must be intentional about making prayer a priority.
15 Minutes to Change your Life
Begin to make personal prayer a priority by taking the 1% challenge™. One percent of your day is 14 min and 24 seconds (let’s be generous with God and round this up to 15 minutes!). Here are some tips that might help you rise to this challenge:
- Dedicate a specific time every day to prayer. Mark it on your calendar. Schedule it in your Google Calendar. The morning is the very best time.
- Find a specific spot for prayer. Make it comfortable but not too comfortable (you don’t want to fall asleep!) Find a spot where you will not be distracted or interrupted.
- If you want to pray in the morning: set out your clothes the day before. Put your alarm clock across the room so you do not hit the snooze button. Set you coffee maker to have a cup ready when you wake up.
- Don’t over complicate your prayer. Mental Prayer is the beginning of a fruitful prayer life and the Bible should be our staple diet in prayer.
Pray with the Bible. This is the best way to begin a fruitful prayer life. Here is a simple method called Lectio Divina that has been used by popes, saints, and missionary disciples throughout the ages:
A Method for Individual Lectio Divina
- Choose a quiet, prayerful place free from interruption.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to be your guide and to soften your heart.
- Open to the daily Gospel or some other Scripture and…
Read the passage slowly, possibly out-loud, listening for a word, phrase, or image that stands out to you, that the Holy Spirit might be calling your attention to. Repetition is good; re-read passage 2 or 3 times if desired.
Let your mind ponder the passage or the word/phrase/image that stood out to you. Think about the setting, re-imagine the event, put yourself in the story, etc. Try to use as many of your senses as you can in your imagination. Consider what you hear God speaking to your heart through the word or phrase.
3. Respond & Resolve
Begin a conversation with Jesus. Remember he cares deeply about every aspect of your life. Talk to him as you would a parent, a sibling, or a trusted friend. Ask him to show you how this passage applies to you, and where you need his renewal in your life. Feel free to use the acronym ACTS to further prompt your prayer, either during your Lectio or at another time of your day: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Or, if words do not seem adequate, just lift your heart to the Father and rest in the silence. If appropriate, write down a resolution or an application to your life from your meditation. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to live it out. Feel free to entrust your resolution to Mary, a favorite Saint, or your Guardian Angel.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:11). Contemplative prayer is not something we can achieve on our own; it is a purely divine gift in which the soul receives in silence the gifts God chooses to bestow. We can, however, create a space for the gift of contemplation by spending a few moments of peaceful stillness aware of God’s presence. Allow the meditations and prayers of the day to sink down from your mind to your heart as you linger in the Father’s loving embrace.
Spiritual master St. Francis de Sales (early 17th Century, Introduction to the Devout Life), recommended gathering a “spiritual bouquet” after each day’s period of mental prayer. In order to not let the day’s meditation be lost, he counseled that we write down the word, phrase, or resolution that was the object of our meditation, and take brief moments throughout the day to “smell” our spiritual bouquet. This is a powerful practice. Keep a small pocket journal or even write the day’s word on a 3×5 notecard and carry it with you throughout the day. Before each time you eat, for example, pull out your spiritual bouquet and briefly call to mind your morning meditation and say a short prayer to help you live it out.
Adapted from Lectio Divina Training Resource from “The Evangelical Catholic”
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