How to Pray: an Example

Waterfall National Park

Waterfall National ParkThe year of 2007 was a huge transition for me. I did not understand the power of prayer, I did not pray in a meaningful way, I did not sense God’s existence in my daily life, and I truly did not know how to pray. I was, shall we say, uncomfortable with it. I was even uncomfortable even talking about it.
So here I am in 2015, posting a blog post on prayer on the world wide web. My, have things changed.
In the year of 2007, I attended a retreat. I needed something like that. I was in a bad way. I was losing hope. Bad things were happening to me and many around me. I did not understand why there had to be so much pain and darkness. Why did this life have to be so hard? I was losing a sense of why we all existed. Well, that all changed in a span of about 32 hours. On that retreat weekend, I had a definite sense that God was reaching out to me, to remove the pain and darkness I was in, and to let me know that He loved me unconditionally. This experience immediately changed me. I felt the need to respond. I wanted to understand what happened on that weekend. So I began a self-study intensively, including listening to Christian CD’s, joining a men’s fellowship group at church, reading and pondering Scripture, studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, actively participating at Mass, and attending adult formation classes and workshops. With all this, I began to understand how to pray.
Now, I am not an expert on this. And there are many ways to pray. What I am offering to you is the product of all my self-study, my experience, and my discussions with other like-minded Christians. I am offering to you my example of how to pray. This works for me. There are many ways to pray, and this is very individualized. It is kinda like working out; some like to bike, others swim, others run, others hike, others resistance-training. You get it. Some mix and match. So, here is my way of prayer,
Those who know me know I am more of a simple guy. I don’t like to complicate things too much; life does that all by itself. I would rather be somewhat childlike, as Scripture asks us to be.
So, my most basic prayer is very informal. I leave space within my heart and mind most all the time. I leave space for God to reside. That requires that I do not try to control most things, that I tend to let go of anger, anxiety, worry, and fear very quickly. These emotions will come; this is natural. However, we can change the way in which we react to these emotions. I have chosen to let them go, to not let these emotions take control of me and my response. Now I used to dwell on these emotions. After my big change in 2007, I have been gifted with the ability to recognize immediately when these emotions happen. So, in recognizing the onset of these emotions, I quickly drop them. You see, I want to maintain that space in my heart and mind. I always want to invite God in. And God is there, for me, in that space, every hour.
I know this sounds strange.
How do I know God is there? For me it is a gift I know. I see God in beautiful things, in nature, in smiles, in acts of kindness, in chains of events, in most all things I sense God, and His effects. I tend to look for God in most all things and events. I tend to find Him….
So, with this existence of God with me most every hour, what do I do? Well, I visit with God, all the time. He is like a friend, a counselor, a constant companion. I sense leadings to do things, to consider things, and I learn from this. If a leading makes some sense, if it is consistent with Christ’s teachings, and if I sense peace after making a decision from these leadings, I have come to understand the leading is from God.
I know this sounds strange.
Some say they do not sense this. I was one of them. I used to hear all these voices in my head. I was told I was not good enough, I was told I should give up, I was told I was not popular enough, skilled enough, knowledgeable enough…. Are you feeling this? Do you hear these things too? If you do, you can sense God’s leadings as well. I know you can. This takes an effort, but try to listen more deeply, away from all these voices I have addressed. Way back there, deep within, I sense this still, more silent voice, that leads me, that supports me, that counsels me, that loves me.
I know this sounds strange.
What I can say is that when I follow these leadings, amazing things have happened in my life since 2007. I have learned to  let go, to relinquish control of many things, and to allow God to open opportunities and experiences for me. My life is so much more filled with joy. I still have problems and difficulties in this life. However, the joy is always there. Always.
To assist with creating this space for God to reside, I immerse myself daily or several times weekly in God-type activities, like attending Mass, sharing faith with others with the same Christian commitment, reading Christian books, reading the Christian Prayer book (the red one), listening to my Catholic radio station 910AM, and protecting and cooperating with that space from within at most all times.
If I can do this, I know you can too. I invite you to discuss this with your minister/pastor/priest, with a trusted and committed Christian friend, or even with me. Feel free to message me or call me, any way you are comfortable. Feel free to use the Contact Us section on this page. This is life-changing. This is very much worth-while. For more of my spiritual writings, I invite you to follow this link. Thank you for your patience and endurance on this valuable subject.

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