FR. ANTHONY’S PRAYER POINTERS
One of the most important Christian habits is a daily conversation with God. If this is new to you, begin with a firm commitment to spend fifteen minutes each day in conversation with God. Here some considerations intended to help you spend this time well and overcome difficulties.
TIME AND PLACE: A consistent time each day. For most people, the morning is the best time. Jesus got up early in the morning to pray. When you get up, avoid looking at any screen. Get your coffee (if you drink coffee), sit in your favorite chair, and begin. If you have a favorite crucifix or icon, you can face that image during prayer. You may prefer to pray in a chapel before daily Mass. Or you can pray while on a daily walk.
ACKNOWLEDGE GOD’S PRESENCE: Say something like, “Lord, it is good to be with you.” You can address the Godhead (shared by all three Persons of the Trinity), or you can address one or more Persons, and you can use fitting adjectives, e.g. Gracious God, Lord, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Loving God, etc.)
THEMES OF PRAYER: You don’t have to go through these in a particular order, and some days your prayer will be heavy on one or two themes, but overall you should touch upon these themes, ATRIP: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Repentance, Intercession, and Petition. Try to be specific. For example, when giving thanks, think about all of the good things in your life, family, friendship, food, shelter, work, faith, salvation. Make sure to include spiritual things. Don’t just pray for people who are physically sick to get physically better, but also pray for faith for unbelievers, conversion for sinners, for people to experience the presence of God.
HOLY PHRASE: One way to focus is to breathe slowly and repeat a phrase from scripture over and over again. For example, “Lord, I love you, you are my strength.” “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
REVIEW: Review the past 24 hours of your life with God as they touch upon these themes. Ask God to help you understand what he was trying to teach you in the events of the day. For example, if you remember having disproportionate anger, ask God to reveal the underlying wounds related to the anger, and to heal those wounds.
PREVIEW: Pray your calendar for the day, asking God to guide you and the others you are going to be interacting with. If you are fearful or stressed about something you expect to happen that day, ask God to give you deeper faith, peace, and courage. You may ask your guardian angel and the angel of those you will interact with to help you. Consecrate the day to God. Make an offering in advance of the work you will do and the suffering you will bear.
LECTIO DIVINA: Read slowly a portion of the Scriptures or some spiritual writings. Pause when a word, phrase, idea, or image strikes you. Talk to God about it.
COMPOSITION OF SCENE: Another way to pray with Scripture is to read about an event (usually from the Gospels) and recreating the scene with your imagination. What do the people look like, what are they wearing, what is the weather like, what are the smells, sounds, sensations? Put yourself in the scene and interact with Jesus.
LISTENING: Make sure you give adequate time to listening to God. This can be very hard, because God does not speak to us like other people do. Allow times of pause, of silence, where you are not actively formulating thoughts. Ask God questions and be silent for a while afterwards.
DISTRACTIONS: When your mind is distracted, try to gently refocus by using a holy phrase. If the distraction persists, pray about the distraction. “Father, why does this keep coming up? What do you want me to understand from this? Give me a solution to this problem, or help me entrust it completely to your loving care.”
RESOLUTIONS: Listen for inspirations from the Holy Spirit calling you to make changes in your life. Formulate a small, concrete act that you will do to contribute towards that change.
FAMILY IN HEAVEN: Prayer is about communing with God. Those who are most perfectly in communion with God are the angels and saints. We can include them in our conversation with heaven.