The words are easy to write. Prayer itself isn’t always so easy. There are many reasons why it can be challenging.
- For some it’s hard to spend time with our invisible God.
- Others may feel like they are talking to themselves, or wondering what to say beyond rote prayers, or what to be listening for.
- For many people, the command to do something is easier than the command to love God and to spend time on our relationship with God, unless that puts us back in the ‘doing’ camp.
Some of the holiest people walking the other sometimes struggle in prayer.
If we love God and want to be closer to God, it’s hugely helpful if we slow down and take some time for prayer. Sometimes life is too crazy busy and we may find that, like St. Teresa of Calcutta, our work is our prayer. Perhaps at times we have just moments more than minutes when we can stop and pay attention to the One who has loved us into being.
As with many worthwhile things, getting started can be the hardest part.
Memorized or rote prayers
Rote prayers are so well known that we can gloss over the words and what they mean without letting them sink in. They are useful and beautiful, but it’s best if we can come out of the recitation mode and really think about what we are saying. It’s often helpful to slow down .
I recall being at Mass with an older, retired priest a few years ago, and when he said the Our Father, I distinctly heard him emphasize THY Kingdom come, THY will be done. He was paying attention to every word.
When 5 minutes is all you have for prayer
Got just 5 minutes to pray? A good practice is to be appreciative, and it’s a great starting point:
- Thank you, loving God, for all the blessings of our lives (and think on them for a bit). Maybe you think this alone, at home, at some quiet point in the day. Or maybe you are in nature or in a church. The main thing is not where you are but instead that you appreciate and acknowledge that God is the source of all that is good and beautiful and true.
A good second step is to ask for forgiveness for the times we’ve screwed up or missed the mark, fallen short.
- God, I’m sorry for messing up and not being the best version of myself. I regret that I … or that I didn’t…. Please forgive me and help me to be more like you so that I can help to spread your love and healing in the world.
Many or most of us promise to pray for others. Let’s do that, too. For those who have huge needs or challenges, those we know and those we read about (people in crisis such as war, famine, abuse, addition, mental illness, etc.). Let us ask God to show us where and how we can help. We cannot fix everything, but we can all do something.
Got more time? There are wonderful resources available
If you have more than just a handful of moments, it can be really wonderful to first read some part of scripture or some inspiring, religious writings before turning to God in prayer. There’s a wonderful list of resources on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.