Evaluating your prayer life is an objective way to see if you put God first. Have you prayed today? No? Have you eaten today? Did you hang out with your friends? Have you worked? If the answer is yes, then you put those things above your relationship with God. Prayer doesn’t help your relationship with God, prayer is your relationship with God.
When you go to pray, you don’t have to fight for God’s attention – He has been fighting for your attention. Anytime you pray, it’s always a response to a prompting from God. He’s asking for your heart.
One practical way to pray is through mental prayer. Remember the acronym PAL: praise, ask, and listen.
When we go into the battleground of prayer, it’s important that we lead with praise. Praise is expressing gratitude for who God is. It highlights who prayer is about – it’s not about me; it’s about God. Mass, the ultimate prayer, gives us permission to not think about ourselves. Eucharistic Adoration is about what you can give to Him – you’re looking at Jesus in the monstrance, not a mirror. As you become more familiar with Scripture, you will become more familiar with God’s attributes. It’s important that we know something about God in order to praise Him, and Scripture is a great place to learn more about Him.
Petitioning God for ourselves or for someone else allows God to know what is in our hearts, and this requires trust and vulnerability. It’s tempting to feel silly or intimidated about asking God for things, but He wants you to reveal the things in your heart. When you ask God for something, you’re not telling Him something He doesn’t already know, but you’re giving Him access to something He didn’t have: your heart.
When we give God a chance to speak, sometimes we don’t hear anything. How do we navigate this silence? Sometimes when you’re really close to someone, you can just enjoy their presence without saying anything. So, lean in to that intimacy in prayer, and enjoy the quiet. Other times God is desiring you to read Scripture. God is constantly speaking through Scripture, so pick up a Bible and listen.
Fr. Mike gave us more practical advice on how to pray:
1) Set up when, where, how, and how long you are going to pray throughout the week. Write the details in a calendar, set an alarm, have accountability, and go do it!
2) If you are unmotivated to pray, know that motivation is overrated. If you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. We aren’t called to be motivated, we are called to decide.