A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Saying a Prayer

Posted on: April 30, 2015

Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

~ Matthew 7:7-8*

A number of years ago, I went on a women’s retreat. In our small group sessions, we were supposed to pray for others. Out loud.

I serve as a lector at church, and I’m happy to read from a prepared text, but the thought of praying aloud almost gives me hives.

I have no doubt that I’m not alone in this. While I know people who have the gift of leading others in prayer—their impromptu prayers are so thoughtful that they seem to come straight from the pages of a devotional—I believe they’re the exception.

Even if praying aloud isn’t one of our talents, we still need to spend time in prayer. If we think prayer has to be as formal as the prayers during Mass or something we know by heart, such as the grace we say before meals, struggling to pray is only natural. But we can draw encouragement from these words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, written in her autobiography, The Story of the Springtime of a Little White Flower:

With me prayer is an uplifting of the heart; a glance towards heaven; a cry of gratitude and love, uttered equally in sorrow and in joy. In a word, it is something noble, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites it to God.

Praising God for the beautiful sunshine and morning birdsong, thanking him for our safe arrival at our destination, asking him to comfort someone who’s lost a loved one or heal the person in a passing ambulance: these prayers need only come from the heart. And if the prayers we read from a devotional convey what we’re feeling, we should feel comfortable using them as well, just as we would the prayers of the rosary or the Our Father.

We can take comfort in knowing that even saints sometimes struggle with prayer. St. Thérèse wrote this of her challenges:

Sometimes when I am in such a state of spiritual dryness that not a single good thought occurs to me, I say very slowly the “Our Father,” or the “Hail Mary,” and these prayers suffice to take me out of myself, and wonderfully refresh me.

And for those not used to praying or who are experiencing “spiritual dryness” such as St. Thérèse described, here’s a simple prayer a parish priest shared with me: “Jesus, fill me with your love.”

Whether we pray aloud or silently, in our own words or using a devotional, alone or with others, I pray that we would spend time with God in prayer to share our joys, sorrows and concerns and to know better his plans for us.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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