Prayer

I tend to think of myself as a praying person, but lately I’ve been wondering how well I pray.

There’s a difference, my non-Catholic friends tell me, between praying and praying.

Too often, Catholics are accused of reeling off mindless prayers. The Rosary, for example, involves recitation of the same group of prayers, over and over in a methodical pattern.

Silently praying the beads or even reciting them aloud in church causes my mind to wander. Something about the almost sing-song chants, the familiarity of the words, and before I know it, I’ve “lost” whole decades!

Not that I don’t love the Rosary. I do.

But “rote” prayers don’t make up my entire prayer spectrum.

Prayer — the kind where you read a portion of Scripture or a devotional and allow its message to slowly sink in and permeate your being —  well, somehow that seems a “higher” form of praying. After all, many times it leaves you rejoicing in God’s goodness, your heart singing or leaping with gratitude and peace, and often what you’ve read seems to address your particular needs right then.

So which prayer is more pleasing to God? Who can say?

Who also can say when is the best time to pray?

I’ve known people who set their alarms early so they can have an hour or so prayer-time before starting their day. Others do their praying in the evening, right before bedtime.

For me, most of the day is a prayer. That probably sounds odd, but I realized a long time ago that I’m unable to do anything good, anything of meaning, by myself, so I pray.

Didn’t St. Paul advise us to pray unceasingly?

But when does “unceasingly” become remote, mechanical, overkill?

Part of me wonders whether God doesn’t tire of non-stop prayers, whether He doesn’t want to say (as I occasionally did when my son was little), “Enough for now. Let my ears rest.”

Jesus’ friends faced a similar dilemma. They begged Him to teach them to pray, so He gave them the Lord’s Prayer.

What a wonderful pattern for prayer in general — beginning with praise, acknowledging God’s Will, making our request for this day’s bread, and asking forgiveness for our failings!

Perhaps all kinds of prayer are acceptable in God’s eyes. The little, quick prayers; the long, deep prayers; the recited prayers, the spontaneous, “made-up” prayers.

In the end, I think, it’s not the kind of prayers or the amount or the time of day. It’s that we pray, and pray often.

What do you think?

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13 thoughts on “Prayer

  1. You have asked the real question about prayer. I think in the end you need to do what your heart tells you to do. Keep in mind when your time comes ( which I hope is a long way off) it becomes a one on one deal with God.

    • You’re right, of course! Nobody slides into Heaven on another person’s coattails. We all have to get right with our Creator, however we deem that responsibility.

  2. When it comes to prayer my thoughts are You must be right with God,you should have a right heart and be truthful with God and pray at all time sincerly. We should address God as our Father and Be thankful. Of course ask anything in Jesus Name and Lastly believe and trust that God will do it . Oh Pray in His will, know what the bible says what He will do for us. God loves us so and I thank God that it’s so easy just to talk to Him.

    Do it matter if the prayer are written or right from the heart. What ever you say to God whether out right or writen you should be sincere as long as it comes from your heart. God bless you!

  3. I don’t think anyone has the right to judge someone prayer life or relationship with God….the relationship only concerns that person and God. He hears you regardless of how you pray and He reads hearts and minds.

  4. Debbie,
    To me, prayer is my personal relationship with God and the Blessed Mother and occurs throughout the day whether it be saying the rosary, sitting in silence and meditating, communing with nature, attending Mass, working with patients… God is everywhere and always available. I try to connect in any way I can.

    • I’m pretty much the same way, Kathy. I guess I still question whether that type of all-day prayer is more pleasing to God, or whether He’d prefer we sit still and listen a while. Maybe it doesn’t matter, though, as long as we connect with Him!

  5. God loves me unconditionally-how I pray or don’t pray doesn’t matter to him unless it matters to me. It might matter to other people-priests, pastors, church ladies but my relationship isn’t with them-it’s with God and we get along just fine.

    • Good for you, Katybeth — I can always count on you to be my “voice of reason”! As SuziCate said, we really don’t have the right to judge other people’s prayers anyway — it’s what’s in the heart that matters.

  6. I think prayer is very personal and there are no rules. As you said, we were given the example with The Lord’s Prayer. I pray any and all the time and all different ways. Maybe it’s more important that you pray, not how you do it. At least that’s how I see it. Good post!

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