How to Pray: A Look of Love

There are three main types of prayer according to the catechism - have you tried them out?
by Elizabeth Stromberg, Consecrat | Source: Mater Ecclesiae College

Do you ever think to yourself "I really should pray more" or “even if I do find a moment to pray, I don't know how to pray or what to think about when I pray”?

What is prayer? 
St. Theresa of Lisieux says that “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart;
it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” A loving look to heaven? That doesn’t sound too hard!

In other words-prayer is simple, it’s something that anyone can do anytime. Does that exclude time set aside specifically for prayer? Not necessarily.

How do I find time to pray? 
Don’t you love those people who are always available? Whether it’s a friend who always has time to talk when you need to or your mom who gives you a hand with whatever little thing, that simple availability speaks volumes of love.

Isn’t it amazing that God, the creator of the world and of the universe, makes time to talk to you? He is always thinking of you, loving you. He thinks it’s worth his time, what about you? Have you ever had a competition with God? Tried to see if you can think of him more often then he thinks of you?

If we want to think of Jesus often, we also need to take specific moments of prayer; here are a few ideas:
o Take 5 minutes in the morning when you get up and in the evening before going to bed to say some prayers (see below for types of prayer)
o Say Grace before and after meals
o Pray the Liturgy of the Hours
o Keep your Sundays Holy and live that day centered on the Eucharist.
o Follow the liturgical year-get a missal so that you can know and prepare your heart for the various liturgical seasons and feasts.

Maybe you have to start with just one of these things and only for a minute or two-like the grace before meals. Little by little you can add on the others. 

How do I pray? 
The Catechism outlines three main types of prayer-vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplation. And don’t let the last two scare you! Anybody can meditate and contemplate, because prayer isn’t so much about our ability as the grace of God. 

Let’s take a snapshot of these kinds of prayer:
o Vocal prayer- Vocal prayers are written prayers which we say out loud-for example my family always prays the rosary at night and the St. Michael prayer together after every Mass. The human person is body and spirit, and when we pray out loud we express with our whole self our praise and petition to God.
o Meditation- Meditation enlightens the mind, touches the heart, and moves the will. Usually a meditation is done with the help of a book-personally, I love to use the Gospels. You can also use liturgical texts, or other spiritual writers who help you to know and love Christ and Our Lady. Meditation also helps us write the book of our life by helping us to discover and accept God’s Will in our own lives.

o Contemplation- Contemplative prayer is to be with the one we love. It is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me": as a peasant once told the curé of Ars. Christ’s gaze enlightens the eyes of our heart to teach us his truth and compassion for all people. We look at the mysteries of the life of Christ in order to obtain an intimate knowledge of him in order to love and follow him. 

Again, any of these prayers are possible for anybody, as long as we are humble. Only when we humbly acknowledge that "we do not know how to pray as we ought," are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. For we are beggars before God. 

So today, take a minute to remember the God who loved you so much that he created you and redeemed you-say grace before meals or pick up the bible and with the grace of God you can start on the path of prayer-the path of love.

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