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in Prayer

In the Stillness

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The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting the mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and the after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken the covenant. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 1Kings 19:11-14

So often we are compelled to look for God in the “big” things of life. This reading reminds us that God actually dwells in the small things. His presence, unnoticed, unless we are intentional about noticing it – slowing down, turning off the noise. No grand gestures. No displays of divine magnitude. God doesn’t work that way at least not since Jesus. He comes in the stillness. In the silence. Humbly. He comes through prayer. It is not by accident that we are called to focus on prayer always but especially during Lent. As a school community, we are going to be slowing down our pace on purpose to engage the school in deep prayer each morning. We are purposefully using visualization exercises to connect each individual to Jesus in prayer. We hope that the practice will become habit. God lives in the stillness that prayer provides. Additionally, Elijah remains connected to God despite those around him falling away. Turning to God makes one feel less alone. Prayer is a balm for whatever ails us. God is there.

Praying Together

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When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them… when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” 

Like some of you, I have long held prayer as a private thing, to do by myself. Even Jesus goes off to pray by himself.   

That is not what Jesus is saying in this passage. This passage is a reminder that we should not be going through the motions with our faith. Being superficial is what Jesus means by “so that others may see them.”   

We are not excused from praying or sharing our faith in public. We are called to be authentic in our relationship with Christ. Christ didn’t shy away from performing miracles or even praying with others, and neither should we.

I cannot tell you how many times I have shared with someone something I have been struggling with, just to receive an anti-climactic “I’ll pray for you.” I was challenged three years ago to pray intentionally with others. I have seen the change it has made in my relationships. It can change your relationships too. 

Tags: prayer

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.

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