In his talk on prayer, Fr. Martin shared some of his own struggles with prayer and gave tips on how we can improve our own prayer lives.
Before anything else, Fr. Martin made an important distinction. While many of us are tempted to make prayer about us seeking God, Fr. Martin explained that prayer is all about God seeking us. In order to respond to God seeking us, there are a few things that Fr. Martin suggests.
One thing that Fr. Martin talked about is following the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Ignatius was captivated by the Scriptures while he was bedridden and recovering from a devastating leg injury. Through Scripture, we are able to encounter the living God. Fr. Martin explained it as a “Holy Spirit highlighter.” When we read Scripture, there is typically a line or phrase that sticks out. That’s the Holy Spirit. We are then able to spend the next part of our prayer asking God why it is that He wanted to reveal that particular line or phrase to us. As we are praying, Fr. Martin encourages us to move from a stage of meditation to contemplation. For example, we go from saying “Jesus loves me” to “Jesus, you love me.”
Practically, Fr. Martin gave us four steps to follow in prayer.
- We start by acknowledging where we are at and simply being honest with God about how we feel.
- We then move to relating what we feel to God; we share our heart with the One who made it.
- We receive what it is that God wants to tell us.
- We respond to whatever it is that God has shared with us.
Fr. Martin explained some of the amazing things that prayer will bring; with prayer comes a love of the Church, freedom to suffer for the sake of love, and detachment from things of the world.