Foundations of Prayer

 "Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part.  It always presupposes effort."
 -Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2725.

Three Keys to Prayer

1.God alone satisfies!

Why would I want to spend time with the man or woman I love?  Because love seeks union with the beloved.

Though we may not have experienced the joy of union with God - he is infinitely more fulfilling than any human beloved. He does not give us the joy, consolation or pleasure of union with him at first because he is testing us to see if we love him of just the good things we get from him. The joy, consolation and pleasure will come after the test.

If we give our time to things of this world and not to him we are choosing ourselves over him.

2.There is no such thing as Fate.

We can't understand prayer apart from the truth that this is a family. God is our Father and through grace we become his children.

We are called to share in the work of our Father. In his family he wills that his children participate consciously and freely in his great work bringing creation and redemption to completion.

Created in the image and likeness of God, He has given man intelligence, freedom and responsibility.

We must determine who we become. God has placed us into our own hands so to speak. (cf. Sirach 15:14ff.)

God wants what is best for us, but he requires our participation.

There is no fate!

If we don't develop a good life of prayer, we will miss opportunities and make wrong choices. It is a cooperative effort. He will not force us to know His plan or to be obedient.

Some aspects of his plan are unchanging:

  • Christ's redeeming death on the Cross.
  • Peter tried to stop him, but it was against God's will.

Other events are open to change - LIKE WHO WE BECOME!
God freely opens some events in life to change that we may participate consciously and freely out of love.


  • 1) Changes events
  • 2) Changes lives

God wants all people to be saved, yet hell exists.

3. We all want happiness

God has a perfect plan of happiness for us. But he will not force us to know or do his plan. He wants to guide us and help us through study, counsel, and above all prayer.

Big decisions - Major, Vocation, who to date, what company to work for, city to live in? The more I follow his plan the better my life will be. Part of the script is for us to write. The problem is we fail to recognize his plan because we don't spend a good amount of time in prayer to get on the same page with God.

We pray as we live; we live as we pray (CCC 2725).

In prayer he opens our eyes to his plan for our lives and he strengthens our will to say yes to his plan.
His plan is best; it is far better than we could ever imagine.

Prayer is a Relationship With a Person

What kind of relationship with my wife would I have if I only spoke to her and listened to her as we both laid down to sleep?
Think about what it is like when you begin to date someone and you fall in love. Think of how two people pursue one another, to spend time together. You want to know everything about that person.You tell them everything about yourself.

But if you don't speak with them and stop seeking to know them:
Your love grows cold and the relationship dies.

Seek to know him, to speak to him, to listen to him, to love him!

Prayer is conversation with God

We speak with him and he speaks with us.

St. Escriva:

  • "To pray is to talk with God. But about what? About him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know him and to get to know yourself: to get acquainted!"

Indwelling presence - Augustine - "Late it was that I loved you O Lord."

Prayer is a gift of grace

1.     Pray for the Father to send the Holy Spirit  (Lk 11:13).
2.     Entrust oneself to Mary and ask for her maternal help.

If you do not have a great desire to pray; ask God to give you a great desire to pray. He will grant this desire. If you ask often for the desire to pray God will grant you a burning desire for prayer.

Make an appointment with God

In order to pray we must make an appointment, set aside some specific time with God to speak with him and to listen to him. If we don't set aside some time for conversation with Jesus the day will fly past and we wont do it. Set an appointment with God the night before. Then hold to that appointment the next day.  Make God your priority.

Prayer is a habit.

If you make an appointment with God and are faithful to that appointment every day over a period of time you will develop the habit of prayer that will change your life.

I don't have time to pray.

Luke 5:12-16; Luke 10:38-42, Jesus told Martha, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion..." "I have too much to do to spend time in prayer."  Mary took time with Jesus and was praised by him for this. 

Mother Teresa was asked how she had time to pray with all she had to do.  She responded, "I have so much to do that I cannot afford not to pray."  If we pray God will help us fulfill our responsibilities.

We cannot pray "at all times" if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it (CCC 2609).

Jesus prayed every day 
In the Gospels we find Jesus rising early in the morning or staying up late at night in order to spend time in conversation with his Father every day. Mt 14:23; Lk 5:16; 6:12; Mk 1:35 Jesus taught us how to live by how he lived and he lived a life of daily prayer.

When should I pray?

  • First thing in the morning is best - otherwise the day will set traps and it will get too late and you will be too tired to pray well.
  • If we begin the day in prayer, we lay before God all the things in which we need his help - everything. He will help you throughout the day. Remember Mother Teresa, "I have so much to do today I cannot afford to not pray."

Follow the example of Christ.  Luke 22:39 says Jesus left to make his way as usual to the Mount of Olives to pray.  Jesus made daily prayer a priority.

Where should I pray?

"When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret..." -Matthew 6:6

Find a place where you can have two things:

  • Solitude
  • Silence

The best place of prayer is "face to face" with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. If you cannot pray in His physical presence - set aside a corner of your home that is your place to pray.  A comfortable chair, a crucifix, a picture of Jesus and Mary, candles, a Bible and other spiritual reading; these are important helps to prayer. A crucifix and or an icon at the back of one's desk with the chair pushed away makes a discreet altar at which to pray.

Silence!!!  Prayer comes naturally out of silence.  

Mother Teresa, "In the silence of the heart God speaks."


1 Peter 7: "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you."

Take every worry and anxiety that comes over you when you are trying to pray, hand them over to Jesus and Mary one by one, asking them to take care of these for you, placing them in their care and trusting in their help. This frees up your mind up to speak with him and to listen to him. Just handing over your cares, worries and anxieties to Him is a great prayer in itself, plus you are employing the help of God in everything you have to do and all you are responsible for. Give each one to God at the beginning of prayer or as they pop into your mind during prayer.

Prayer is speaking and listening to God.

Speak with the Lord as you would with a friend. Tell him about everything that is going on in your life that you would like his help with.

Entrust each thing to him and his Blessed Mother. Be Specific. He will be specific with you.

God always hears and answers our prayer

Our Father knows what is best for us; at times he does not grant what we pray for because he wants to give something better. Matthew 7:7-11   Everyone who asks receives because God is our Father! St. Jerome, "It is written, to everyone who asks it will be given; so, if it is not given to you, it is not given to you because you do not ask; so ask and you will receive." But remember, when we ask, God is more concerned with our true happiness and the well being of our soul than we are. He will only do what is best for the salvation and glorification of our soul. Sometimes he wants us to grow and become more loving and more like his Son so he allows us to endure certain trials and sufferings. Think how we act as parents toward our children. Many times we say "no" to one thing in order to give the child something better.  St. Augustine, "The physician knows best what is good for the sick man.  Therefore God sometimes in mercy hears not.  The Lord often denies what we wish for, that he may give us what we would rather have in the end."

Different Forms of Prayer

Daily Mass
The greatest and most perfect prayer, intercession, worship, and thanksgiving is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Go every day.

The Rosary is a meditation on the life and teachings of Christ.  A little boy grows up to be like his father because over many years he has watched how his father lives and over time began to imitate him without even noticing. If we get to know Christ by reading Scripture and meditating on his life while praying the Rosary, Mary will cooperate with the Holy Spirit to form us as an interior reflection of Jesus.
Pray the Rosary every day either right after your spiritual reading or at a different point in the day.

Praying with Scripture
It is through the Bible that we meet the Person of Jesus Christ.  We come to learn who he is, how he lived, what he taught, what he has done for me, and it is through Scripture that I learn his plan of salvation and happiness for my life.  Reflecting on this truth allowed St. Jerome to say, "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."

Vocal Prayer
Vocal Prayer, founded on the union of body and soul in human nature, associates the body with the interior prayer of the heart, following Christ's example of praying to His Father and teaching the Our Father to His disciples.

Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain, we are usually helped by spiritual reading: Sacred Scripture (particularly the Gospels), holy icons, writings of the fathers, the saints and other works of spirituality, the book of our own life. It is good to meditate on the events of your life. God wants to tell you what he is doing in and with our lives. Yet, we rarely listen.

Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer.  It is the gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love (CCC 2724).

The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship.  Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love (JPII, Dominicae cenae).  The Catholic Church offers adoration to the sacrament of the Eucharist, not only in Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmostcare, exposng them to the solemn veneration of the faithful (CCC 1378).

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