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The Habit of Prayer

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At the start of the confirmation process, I sit down with each of the candidates. One of the first things I ask them to do is lead us in prayer.
I often get a blank stare or a “I don’t know what to say.” I assure them that there is no wrong way to pray, as long as it’s in God or Jesus’ name. Many of us pray daily, some occasionally, and we know from the recent parish survey that many parishioners rarely pray. Why is this? I know for me, my struggles with prayer are rooted in being taught prayers when younger, but not being taught how to talk with God.

The droughts I have had in my faith have resulted in not knowing how to talk with and listen to God. While traditional prayers can be powerful, they need to be part of a larger prayer habit that includes sharing our joys and struggles with God.

This Lent, Fr. Dennis challenged us to daily intentional prayer during Lent. This might seem a little frightening for some of us, so as we prepare for Lent starting this Wednesday, we wanted to share some ways to begin creating a habit of prayer.

Here are a few acronyms that can help give structure to your conversation with God:

  • A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication)
  • P.R.A.Y. (Praise, Repent, Access, and Yield)
  • A.L.T.A.R. (Adore, Love, Thank, Ask, and Receive)

You can look each of these up online to learn these specific prayer structures. Below is a simple process that encompasses all of these prayer methods.

  1. Start by recognizing who God is to you. Whether that is Father, Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, Lord, Divine Physician, or some combination in your own words. This part of our prayer should express our wonder and awe of the Lord.
  2. After we praise and adore God, we should admit that we are not God. This means acknowledging the moments that we have tried to be a god or pushed God aside, and ask for God’s forgiveness and perseverance.
  3. Next is to give thanks to God for the blessings He continues to shower upon us. After all, everything is a gift from God. Take a few moments to express what you are thankful for today. What went well in your life today? Who was there to help guide you?
  4. Now that we have thanked God for how He is blessing us, we can entrust Him with our intentions. What are you struggling with and need God’s assistance? Remember, God already knows what’s on your heart, but like a friend, He desires for you to share and entrust Him with it. This is also the time to pray for others. Whom do you need to pray for, a friend, a co-worker? Pray for them by name and be specific about the intention.
  5. Finally, spend some time just to be with God. At first, you will be bombarded with distractions, so it will take some time to learn to block those out. But after dedicating time daily to this habit, over a few months or years, you will be able to embrace the silence. We know from Scripture (Elijah) and the Saints (St. Therese of Avila) that it is in this quiet that we can hear God speak to us. You can close your time of prayer with a Hail Mary, Our Father, Glory Be, or other favorite prayer.

Our Challenge for you this week is to start creating the habit of daily prayer. If you do not really pray daily, try just five minutes of prayer. If you already pray daily, are you using that time to intentionally speak to God?

-Andrew Schueller, M.A.T.L.

Pruning

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As a Master Gardener, I have developed an appreciation for the practice of pruning. Sometimes, I prune away plants carefully in order to protect the integrity of the landscaping design. Other times, I am bold in order to promote growth where it has grown stagnant. This may be why I like Lent so much. It is my favorite liturgical season. It is an intentional time of year to prune away habits that have prevented me from being the best version of myself. It provides the time to focus on new
growth through the three pillars of praying, fasting, and almsgiving. 

Prayer helps us to connect with Jesus to truly appreciate what He has done for us and continues to do for us throughout our lives. He suffered so that we do not. Fasting helps us to remove those things from our lives that get in the way of us being the best versions of ourselves. It is more than just giving up chocolate or other tempting food. We are called to examine our lives and work to eliminate the obstacles that prevent us from loving God as we should and loving others as we should. Try to fast from bothersome behaviors that create conflict and discord. Many of us choose to fast from food to appreciate suffering and identify with the poor. Our temporary suffering due to a growling belly can be a reason to turn to God in prayer. Almsgiving helps us to support others who are not as fortunate as us. We have so much while others have little. Almsgiving requires a level of sacrifice much like fasting does. Take the money you would spend on something frivolous and unnecessary and use it to share with those in need.

 

Posted by Jill Fischer

The Continuation of the Gospel

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What does it mean when St. Paul implores us to preach the Gospel?  Does that mean we need to know every word of scripture and shout it from a soap box on a street corner? While this could be one way, I would argue St. Paul is talking about a more personal Gospel.

I once knew someone who was fond of saying that the Bible has many chapters, but it is only the first chapter in the larger Gospel, the Good News of God. She claimed each one of us, our individual stories, are a continuation of that Gospel. We all have episodes of time where we feel close to God, but then something, like sin, separates us from Him. He then restores the relationship with us, causing us to turn back to Him and His Church. Each of these personal stories that we hold in our hearts are little Gospels. When we tell others of these stories we are doing what St. Paul implores in 1 Corinthians 9: 16-19 .

When I first became Catholic, I hesitated to share what God did in my life, because I thought I might sound crazy to others. However, in every instance, when I thought it would be poorly received, I was met instead with open minds and curiosity, even while working in the secular world as a recruiter at ManpowerGroup Solutions. 

As Simon says to Jesus in the Gospel of Mark 1:29-39, “Everyone is looking for you.”  Everyone around us is looking for a savior, most spend years searching in the wrong places. It is our responsibility to share Jesus, by sharing the Gospel He works in our lives, with them, so they might see and hope in Him. 

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