The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. What we pray for, how we pray, when we pray, where we pray, and what battles we encounter during prayer, varies widely among Christians. Discover some of those differences in today’s message.
Please forgive me in advance. Today’s message is on the lighter, shorter side. Both my wife and I have been recovering this past week from Covid and my energy level is drained and my writing inspiration is a little low. With that said, I thought I would use today’s message for a quick refresher on the subject of prayer.
What Do We Pray For?
Each season of the liturgical year, as well as each season of life, presents us with unique prayer opportunities. For example, now during Advent, we have the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah. The word Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” meaning “to come.” Therefore, Advent is the perfect time to pray, reflect, and meditate on three aspects of Christs coming.
- Our Lord has come on the first Christmas Day. (past tense)
- Our Lord will come again at the end of time. (future tense)
- We invite Jesus to come into our life today. (present tense)
In addition to communal prayer at church, most Christians seek out their own unique oasis for “private prayer”. Some of us go to retreat centers, some go on pilgrimages, some go for a walk in the woods, some have a dedicated “prayer corner” in their home, some simply kneel on the bedroom floor to pray, and some are fortunate enough to have a chapel in their home for prayer.
When Do We Pray?
Most of us have a preferred time to pray. Some choose mornings, other choose evenings, many Christians pray throughout the day, and of course, most Christians pray before and/or after their meals.
Throughout Christian history, three major expressions of prayer have been observed: vocal, meditative, and contemplative. All three share a common trait. They require a heart disposed to God.
With vocal prayer we use words, both spoken or in the silence of our mind. It’s been said, “Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number of words, but on the fervor of our souls.” Clearly Jesus used words to pray. He taught us to pray the Our Father. He also demonstrated vocal prayer in the synagogue during His agony in the garden and from the cross.
Through meditative prayer our mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life. Through it, we position ourselves to better adhere and respond to the Lord. Meditative prayer helps us find answers to this question, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
Contemplative prayer gives us the opportunity to share our life with the Lord. St. Teresa wrote, “ Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”
If you sometimes find it difficult to pray, you are not alone. We battle ourselves and we battle the evil one when we are trying to pray. It is not always easy to pray. Mental distractions are common in prayer and it’s challenging to remain attentive. Books, holy icons, Scripture, and other prayer “tools” can sometimes help. Because of the obstacles to prayer, we must have a strong, intentional, persistent, commitment to pray. We need to set aside a time and place to pray to the Lord and we need to stick with it.
What we pray for, where we pray, when we pray, and our expressions of prayer varies from person to person. The bottom line is this, the Lords leads us to prayer by the path that is most pleasing to Him. In the end, what matters most is the need to pray with our whole being. If we become discouraged while praying, we must call on the Holy Spirit for His assistance and we must trust God. After all, God loves us and knows our needs better than we do..
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