Pray Always and Pray All Ways

by Kathleen Glavich, SND on June 29, 2016

in Blogs

seat-belt1-620x320At first glance St. Paul’s exhortation to pray always (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18) seems to be a mistranslation. Maybe what he really said was, “Pray a lot.” Praying ALWAYS is a mental impossibility. When I’m writing a book, for instance, my mind is 100% focused on the ideas I’m typing, not on God. The only way I can think of to pray always is to make all our daily activities a kind of prayer-in-action by consecrating our day to God by praying the Morning Offering.

We can, however, weave thoughts and words to God throughout the day in various ways. In addition to the customary morning, meal, and evening prayers, we can send “arrow prayers” to God at odd moments. We can pray while engaged in things that don’t require much thought like washing dishes, driving with cruise control, or weeding the garden. We can also adopt little tricks that trigger our mind to think of God. One woman has trained herself to think of God whenever she opens a door. I like to say a pray whenever I plug in an electrical cord (mainly for safety’s sake!) Fr. Edward Hays recommended praying whenever you buckle on a seat belt: “Wrap me in your love, buckle me in your blessedness.” While waiting in a line or waiting for something to download, we could pray a mantra—a short prayer like “Jesus” or “God, I love you” repeated over and over. A gorgeous gift of nature —a sunset that is a riot of color, a peach-colored rose in full bloom, ice-decorated tree branches—might prompt us to praise the Creator. There’s truth in the witticism “A day woven through with prayer is less likely to unravel!”

Right now I’m writing a book on how to teach prayer. In it I advise teachers to inform their students of the many different ways Catholics pray. Then when the students grow out of one way of praying, they are equipped to experiment with other forms of prayer. Besides the traditional vocal prayers there are several ways to meditate, such as putting yourself into a Gospel story, reliving an event in your life as though Jesus were with you, and pondering each phrase of the Our Father. For centDSC_6746uries Christians have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) through which the whole day is sanctified. Then there are forms of prayer that have recently become popular: lectio divina (sacred reading in four steps), centering prayer, and the labyrinth. We also have litanies, novenas, octaves, and triduums. Hymns are sung prayers. (By the way, two of my friends met through praying the Divine Office. They are now married!)

In addition to the traditional devotions, the Rosary and the Way of the Cross, we now can pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Of course, the simplest and most personal prayer is that which arises spontaneously from our hearts. My most frequent prayer is probably “Help!” And the paramount prayer, of course, is the Eucharist.

If you are unfamiliar with any of these prayers, you might explore them on the Internet or check out my book “The Catholic Way to Pray” (Twenty-Third Publications). Or you could wait until my next book on prayer is published!

What is your favorite way of praying? Which form are you interested in exploring and trying out?

 

 

 

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark June 29, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Hey Sister,

“It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it.”

Prayer.

I will ask you, before I answer your questions, why do you pray?

Mark

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Kathleen Glavich, SND June 30, 2016 at 7:27 am

OK, Mark… Good observation and good question. I pray because I believe God exists, an almighty, perfect, supreme Being, and so I praise and glorify him. I believe that God created me, and so I thank him. I believe that God saved me and destined me for eternal life with him, and so I love him. I believe that God loves me and wants only the best for me, and so whenever I “hurt” God by not doing as he wishes, by not showing love for him or others, then I express sorrow. I believe that God hears and answers me (Jesus said so), and therefore I ask him for things for myself and others.
Your turn!

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Mark Misencik July 1, 2016 at 11:43 am

Hey Sister,

The next time I ask you a question, remind me to have answer already prepared. I’ve probably written a dozen replies and deleted them all.

Your answers interest me. I guess I was looking for something a little different. I mean, I could believe in God and not pray.

Give me a little more time to think about this one. Until then, maybe some of your other readers could chime in with an answer?

Mark

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Kathleen Glavich, SND July 1, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Mark, you may have an extension on your “homework.”

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Mrs Marian Green July 3, 2016 at 4:59 pm

I use many ways to pray, but probably my favourite at the moment is to place myself in God’s presence and just “be”. I spend half an hour in the morning and sometimes ( if life lets me) again in the evening in prayer. It isn’t always as simple as that and sometimes I have lots of things to talk to the Lord about and at other times I get very distracted , but I try to listen and let God speak within me… I also pray the rosary etc, but this is my favourite..

gramswisewords.blogspot.com

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Kathleen Glavich, SND July 17, 2016 at 12:01 pm

You probably know, Marian, that contemplation, resting in God, is the highest form of prayer. By the way, I’m writing this on the day that Gospel is the Martha/Mary story. While Martha is busy preparing the meal, Jesus tells Mary, who is listening to him, that she has chosen the better part.

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Mark July 5, 2016 at 9:57 am

Hey Sister,

Well, I’ve been thinking and I’m stumped.

Are we born with the instinct to pray? We are made in the image of God and everything, including our spirit, comes from Him. We are part of Him. What about people who don’t pray? They chose not to follow their instinct, that all. But we were all born to pray.

Or is prayer a learned response? As our spiritual life develops and our relationship with God grows we learn to pray to Him. All the reasons why you pray show that you have a great relationship with God, but I would guess that you learned most of them.

In Genesis God creates everything and He “…saw that it was good”. Maybe prayer is just an extension of that. Maybe it just that simple.

Mark

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Kerri July 8, 2016 at 2:02 pm

I believe prayer is learned, though some people probably have more of an inclination to it than others. I pray because God is a living being and he is our Father. Prayer is a way of talking with our Heavenly Father and Creator. Just as we would talk to anyone with whom we have a relationship, prayer is a means of communication with One who wants to be in relationship with us (and we should want to be in relationship with Him). And I also pray for all the reasons Sr. Kathleen mentioned in her first reply above.

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Mark July 10, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Hey Kerri,

Not so much that I agree with you.

If you were born to a family of atheist, you’d be doomed. No?

Mark

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Kathleen Glavich, SND July 11, 2016 at 8:54 am

I just came back from retreat…a week of praying! I think that prayer is both innate and learned. People of all cultures and times have sensed that there is a Supreme Being (or beings) and have worshiped, praised, pleaded, and sacrificed. As Romans 1:20 states, we can know that God exists from creation. Someone mused that the first prayer was said when a person saw a green shoot coming out of the ground and said, “Oh!” On the other hand, we are taught how to pray by our parents and others.

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