Updated: Mar 11, 2020
If the focus of Lent is repentance, a turning away from sin and our selfishness and turning towards God, then one of the main ways we turn back to God is in prayer. Prayer is the interior place where we spend time with God and get to know Him intimately. Without daily prayer we will not grow in the spiritual life.
A simple way to describe prayer is to say that there are two kinds of prayer – vocal prayer and mental prayer. Mental prayer is interior and is daily time we spend alone with God, and Mental prayer can involve meditation or contemplation. Christian Meditation is not to be confused with Eastern meditation. Christian Meditation can also be called reflective prayer and is where we think about God and Divine things in the Presence of God. Contemplation is a state of sitting with God and being taken up to Him, and is a pure gift from God. This is the kind of prayer of the mystical saints. We can’t get it or acquire it, it’s a gift from God.
Vocal prayer is exterior and is audibly expressed and is all of the written down prayers that have been handed down through the Church for 2000 years. It’s the Prayers of the Mass, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the Guardian Angel Prayer, the Act of Contrition, Liturgy of the Hours and many, many more. Vocal prayers are often prayed in community but they can also be prayed alone. We can categorize vocal prayer into six kinds: Adoration, blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise.
In Mental prayer we talk to God and learn to bare our souls to Him, and we get to know Jesus personally by reading the Gospels and praying and pondering over them and what they mean to our lives. Like any relationship, getting to know God takes time, it means showing up every day, and the relationship will have stages of intimacy. Silence for a few minutes at the end of our prayer time where we sit and wait for God is an important part of Mental prayer. Daily Mental prayer is one of the most important things we can do to grow spiritually besides Mass and regular Confession. Let’s look at how to pray daily so that if you have never prayed this way before you can get started right away.
How to pray daily, this is from the book Into the Deep by Dan Burke
Lectio Divina or Discovery Prayer, a kind of mental prayer
The Five R’s: read, reflect, respond, rest, resolve
Open with either Our Father or Glory Be
Bring yourself into God’s Presence
Read – the daily gospel with leisure in God’s presence. Read out loud, this helps us listen attentively
Key questions: What does the Bible text say in itself? What did the author intend? What does the Church teach about the subject?
Reflect – gently explore the scripture. Prayerfully engaging with the meaning of the passage and considering how it may apply to your life circumstances.
Key Questions: What does this text say to me? How does it apply to my life? Where is God leading me? What is He revealing to me?
Respond – converse with God about the scripture and what it might mean to you and mean in your life
Key Questions: What can I say in response to God? Should I Offer thanksgiving or praise, or should I ask for His help in any particular way
Rest – pause and rest in God’s self-revelation (the yes is in the rest) Allow yourself to rest and remain absorbed in the words of God, allowing or inviting the Holy Spirit to draw you more deeply into his presence through what you’ve read.
Key Questions: Am I being patient, attentive and open to Gods’ movement in my soul as I rest in his self-revelation?
Resolve – commit to live in God’s presence. Allowing the encounter with God to permeate your day, causing you to draw even nearer to him through his self-revelation and invitation to participate with him in making his presence known in the world.
Key Questions: What can I specifically do to respond to what God has revealed to me in this passage? How can I carry the encounter with me into the day to influence how I think and see?
You may write down your resolution and conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving.
Close with Glory Be prayer
Reading seeks, reflection finds, responding engages, resting tastes, and the person who experiences authentic encounter resolves.
Next week we will talk about the three keys to effective daily prayer:
Confidence – trust in God
Attention – how to avoid distraction