Thursday, 10 November 2016

9 Ways of Praying

1. Intercessory Prayer i.e. praying for others

(Isaac Wither's choice)

Praying for others came naturally to my prayer life because I think we all have a natural instinct to try to help our friends and the people around us. So, when I was young, I prayed for the kid I considered my worst enemy (you have those as kids) and I watched him become really kind. In High School, I prayed for someone who I had a feeling was going to be physically bullied, and they one day turned up at my house after a near death incident and talked to my mum about God for hours. A year after that, I found myself thrown into the path of someone in the depths of suicidal thoughts whom I was unsure would make it to the summer, and they did, and they’re still ok. 

Most of these were not immediate, they were all weeks if not months of just praying and talking with them, and handing everything over in prayer. But throughout my life, they have been the private proofs, the unexplainable changes that have kept me praying. Seeing things change. I’ve seen God act for my friends, so I trust him now when there seems to just be radio silence.

2. Fasting

(Paddie Denton's choice)

I struggle with prayer because I like to be practical and sometimes, prayer can lack that practicality for me. But over the last few months I have learned about praying through fasting. It's so simple: give something up, say no to something and offer it for an intention. Going for a day without food or leaving Facebook for a day is not too much of a challenge, and its so intentional (and practical). It has worked wonders in my life, prayers have been answered and the growth fasting has given to my will power and personal virtues has been stunning.

3. Prayer Journaling

(Kirsten Brown's choice)

Prayer journaling is something I sort of fell into. I’ve kept personal journals for as long as I can remember, and as my spiritual life started growing and becoming my own, I noticed that my writing was not so much reflection, as it was writing to Jesus. I didn’t know it then, but a lot of what I was writing translated into prayers written with the trusting abandon found in journaling, encapsulating my walk with God and, in time, revealing his unfolding plan for my life.

As if by providence, a very close friend bought me a journal for Christmas, intended as a prayer journal. I don’t know about you but sometimes when I just pray internally I lose focus or become distracted and pray nonsensically. The process of writing brings clarity of thought — what your subconscious spirit brings to the surface, what you truly intend to say. Writing allows you to really search within for the words which best express your prayer.

4. Adoration

(Gina Geffer's choice)

I find the best form of prayer is adoration. When Jesus is with you, present in the Eucharist, you can’t go wrong. Whether you feel like: you don’t know how to pray, or you’re having difficulties, or you feel lost, whatever it may be, He will listen to you. Get into a routine, start (or start over) with going on at least a weekly basis, to spend some time with him so close. It makes my heart lift and my eyes teary on a regular basis. 

When I go to adoration and I don’t feel like being able to pray for individuals or the like, I bring my Bible and the Daily Readings or the latest spiritual book that is normally placed by my bedside table. For example, I’ve read 'God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald' several times, but it keeps me on track and I can only recommend it. That is how my conversation with Jesus flows best.  

5. Nighttime Adoration

(Emily Milne's choice)

Adoration is my best place of prayer. Moreover, adoration in the dark, silent hours of the night has always brought me the deepest spiritual fruit. I have now attended quite a few Youth 2000 retreats, and my favourite thing is still to go to adoration in the quiet hours - between 2 and 5am. Saint Teresa of Calcutta said that ‘in the silence of the heart God speaks.’ It's so true! My heart is quietened and my soul is calmed by God's presence in the Eucharist, and in adoration I am able to be silent and really listen - which can be so hard sometimes, especially because I live in London!

6. Reading as prayer

(Megan James's choice)

One thing that I have found helpful for getting through the tougher times of prayer is turning to scripture, or reading the works of the saints and other great theological writers. Think about it, prayer is all about having a relationship and communicating with God, and what would we do if we found communication difficult in any of our other relationships? We’d try and spend more time with that person and get to know them better.

When we know someone more intimately and personally, it naturally becomes far easier for us to then open up to them. It’s the same with faith. When we read scripture, we are reading the Word of God, and when we get to know His Word, we get to know His heart. It is when we get to know His heart more deeply, that our relationship and in turn our prayer life can really begin to flourish. It was St Vincent de Paul who said ‘for just as you speak to God when at prayer, God speaks to you when you read.’ So, when you find yourself at a loss for words in personal prayer, open your Bible, open your Catechism, open that C S Lewis or St Therese of Lisieux book that you’ve had on your bookshelf all this time, and learn more about God. And let Him speak to you.

7. The Rosary

(Eve Hirst's choice)

The rosary changes lives! Mary is an incredible mother and loves us so much. All she wants to do is to bring us to her son and for us to 'let Him love you'. In the hardest struggles when we don't feel like bringing it all to Jesus, our mother Mary is right there as our life-line interceding and praying for us through it all. Her last words in the Bible are filled which such a clear, simple truth that is always worth remembering, 'Do whatever He tells you'.

8. Praise

(Paddie Denton's choice)

Praise. It frees me in my prayer. It helps to focus my mind. It taps into that primal aspect of rhythm and music that’s in all of us. Music is such a naturally shared experience anyway, but praise is shared experience of song, to God; it can be so powerful. 

But for me, praise is also about how it frees me to be truly myself before God. It frees me to raise my arms and move my body in praise without worrying about being judged, and it frees me to be weak and vulnerable before the one who created us. It is the most intimate form of prayer (especially when in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament). But as a bonus it also charges me to be able to be contemplative and quiet later.

9.  Group Prayer 

(From 'Ways of Praying' by Fr John Edwards, SJ)

Our Lord said 'Where two or three are gathering together in my name, I am in the midst' (Mt. 18:20). It would seem therefore that a group of people who meet together, conscious of our Lord and eager to do his will, are likely to find not only friendship, union, support, but also - if he wills it - a special presence of Christ, perhaps mediated through the companionship.

Any group of people praying together in the name of Jesus can expect him to be present in their midst, as he promised. This could be a congregation carrying out a liturgical act, or a family saying the rosary. But normally a congregation in a church or a family saying the rosary, would not advert to that special presence. But a group of people who consciously intend to open themselves to that special presence are engaged in group prayer, even though they are praying in silence. 


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