Friday, 27 July 2012

How to Pray

The Catholic Doors Ministry presents from their Bible Course

"How do I pray?"
This question is frequently asked to those who minister to the faithful.  To know how to pray, one must understand the meaning of praying.  What does it mean to pray?  The dictionary defines it as addressing God, making a fervent request, beseeching and imploring.  The New Roget's Thesaurus defines praying as invoking, supplicating, communicating with God, worshipping, begging, adjuring and pleading.  It further associates prayer with devotions, services, chapel, entreaty, supplication and petition.  Truly, all of these, plus more, answer the question "How do I pray?"

When a person goes to a florist to buy a flower, he selects the most beautiful flower that he can find, one that emits a pleasant fragrance, one that is blooming, that is rich in colourful petals, that is free of defects, that is appealing to the eyes, etc... Symbolically speaking, when a person presents a prayer petition to God, it is like presenting that most beautiful flower in exchange for a worldly or spiritual favour that is being requested. The greater the beauty of the flower, the greater the likelihood that the petitioner shall obtain the favour that he is seeking from God. If the petitioner gives God a flower that is covered with dirt, has a number of defects and half of the petals are missing, surely this would be an insult to God. God would turn His back to the petitioner and ignore the unworthy prayer request.

 As previously indicated through the flower example, when approaching God, it is necessary to be properly disposed. What follows is a number of desirable qualities that are pleasing to the eyes of God. Having the right disposition improves one's chance of obtaining God's blessings.
The qualities that are necessary in a successful prayer petition are equal to the petals that are found on the flower that is being presented to God. If some of the qualities are missing, it means that during the prayer petition, God will be offered a defective flower.
As a general rule, when it will benefit the spiritual growth of a believer, the Lord God will answer his prayer petition. But again, the believer must be properly disposed. In other cases, the grace of God may touch the heart of individuals before they have achieved such a disposition in order to lead them towards a proper disposition. The timing for achieving the right disposition depends entirely on how the grace of God works in each individual person.

The first petal which is absolutely necessary, is a conversion of heart [Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2608] prior to approaching God in prayer. The individual must have a sincere desire to change his life from the worldly ways to the spiritual ways.

There is a need to always approach God in a humble manner. A prayer said in humility is worth more than all the boastful prayers. When appropriate, one should kneel in an act of reverence, recognizing his sinfulness. Humility adds another petal to the flower.

When praying, do so with the simplicity of a child. Express simple words that come from the heart. Jesus said, "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words." [C.C.C. # 2608; Mt. 6:7] A few sincere words from the heart are more pleasing to God than a large number of repeated devotions, prayers or words.

A common error of many who petition God is to ask for worldly things, fame, love, pleasures and wealth. Their prayer petitions are for worldly things, their requests totally ignoring their spiritual needs. A balanced prayer includes both, one's spiritual and worldly needs. "What will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?" [Mt. 16:26] One day, all physical gains shall come to an end; spiritual gains shall last an eternity. A prayer petition that includes spiritual needs adds another petal to the flower that is presented to God.

When you pray for a need that relates to your spiritual growth, such as a holy marriage, present your petition without ceasing. Persevere, not just for a day, but for weeks and for months until such time as you have received what your heart truly desires. "Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." [Mt. 7:7-8]

Excerpts from The Catholic Doors Ministry presents from their Bible Course – excellent source of how to pray and over 3459 prayers to discover --