While cleaning out papers I came across something I wrote about four years ago. In my humble opinion I believe it is worth sharing again and I hope you agree with me.
"Grandma, do you pray"? was the question asked by one of my grandchildren. "Do you pray" I asked him. "Well, I talk to God sometimes" he answered. "Well, that's what prayer is" I told him, "simply talking to God".
That conversation made me think about prayer and whether there is such a thing as a good, better or best way to pray. I remembered back to my school days, grades 2 through 8 at Sts. Peter and Paul's Catholic School. Prayer was an important part of each and every school day as well as weekly Mass. We learned prayers such as the Apostle's Creed, Hail Mary, Act of Contrition.
As a child, I loved the formality and ceremony, the sense of community, everyone saying the same prayer at the same time. I believed that the more people there were saying the same prayer the more God listened. Each night before bed I would recite the Act of Contrition and Hail Mary.
Is reciting something by rote a prayer?
Growing older, life happened and for a lot of reasons I stopped going to Mass. There were even periods of time when I stopped praying, stopped saying the words, stopped talking to Him. Like so many do, I would reach out to God when I needed Him, when someone was ill or dying. If things didn't go the way I had hoped I'd remain silent, until I needed Him again. I tried to be the best person I could be, always doing my best to do the right thing, treating others with respect and care.
Is there such a thing as prayer by the way you live even if you're not talking to God?
At this point in my life, I've come to believe that prayer is, indeed, simply talking to God. Certainly I will still sometimes say the Act of Contrition before sleep, just in case my morning wake up is elsewhere, but my prayers are a conversation between me and God. I'll talk to Him about whatever may be bothering me at that moment. I'll share my frustrations with the way things are going with our country's leaders and the world in general, asking Him to touch hearts. I realize that only open hearts can be touched but I'll ask Him to keep trying and not give up on us.
When some calamity happens that I hear about on the news or someone we know loses a loved one, I'll ask Him to help those affected; to comfort them and ease their suffering and sorrow.
I always ask Him to continue to watch over my family keeping them safe from all harm or danger. Sometims it's a simple "help me" when I find myself ready to give up. I try to say "thank You " each morning for the gift of that day or when the beauty of a moment fills my heart.
I'll tell Him how sorry I am for disappointing him but that I'll continue to keep trying with His help so please don't give up on me. I let Him know how grateful I am knowing that He loves me despite my imperfections.
I've actually asked Him to help me not sweat the small stuff so much as I tend to worry a bit...okay, quite a bit, but I'm getting better with His help. I try to remember to thank Him for the blessings He's given me and for the beauty of the world and people around me. Especially those times when a day or moment is so beautiful, so absolutely perfect, that you can't help but smile and say "thank You Lord".
Like all children, sometimes I too am guilty of not always listening when He speaks to me but I'm working on that. He knows I am and will always continue to be a work in progress.
I guess I've answered my question about whether there is such a thing as a good, better or best way to pray. For me, prayer is a combination of words shared with God and the unspoken word of your daily actions as you simply live your life.
I believe that even simple words that truly come from your heart are powerful prayers. The important thing is to keep talking to Him and listen when He speaks to you. He always will.
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