Saturday, September 04, 2010

On Personal Prayer

We all know what Jesus has to say about prayer:
"...This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors..."
Matthew Chapter 6


God already knows our needs and if we trust in Him when we pray, He will take care of us. 

Yet, there are so many in need of our prayers...not only in our own families, or our friends, but people we do not even know. There are so many people with prayer requests for either themselves or for others. How do we pray for all of them?

I remember a priest once mentioning that when he receives a prayer request, he immediately prays a Hail Mary for that intention. He does it immediately, so that he will not forget to pray for that person.

Many people offer their Rosary prayers, Holy Hour of Adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Mass attendance and Holy Communion for others in need of prayers.

However, are we being distracted from the sacrifice of the Holy Mass by concentrating so much on remembering all the prayer requests and petitions? During the Consecration, our prayers are most powerful.  What should we be praying during that most solemn point of the Mass? Should we be focusing on remembering the prayer petitions or should we be instead in adoring our Lord?

With so many important petitions to pray for such as the conversion of sinners, spiritual and physical healing, end of abortion, protection of traditional marriage, children, the elderly, the homeless, our military..., it seems like we are wasting a valuable moment when our prayers of supplication can really be useful. Or should we put all our faith in the Lord that He does in fact know our needs and those of other people and just generally ask Him to help those in need?

The latter sounds very good and also in firmly relying on "Jesus, I trust in You".

On the other hand, wasn't it Mother Angelica who once said you have to be very specific when we pray?
Mother Angelica ended up in Alabama because of another miracle, as she tells the story. In 1946, at age 23, she was paralyzed in an accident with a scrubbing machine while cleaning the floors of a Poor Clare convent in Canton, where she was then living. Lying in a hospital bed, she prayed to God and promised that if she ever walked again, she would build Him a monastery in the South. (The choice of region seemed purely arbitrary: "I have no idea why I said that," she says.) Soon she was walking, but not without the aid of crutches and a back brace. She would be dependent on both for the next half-century and also in constant pain. She jokes that she quickly learned to be more specific in her prayers. "I asked to walk," she jokes, "I didn't ask to walk comfortably."

Mother Angelica also is the one who by her own admission has been known to pray distractedly for people who request prayers.  She once told the story of a woman who called the Monastery and got Mother on the line.  However, Mother was distracted with something that needed her immediate attention.  The woman requested prayers for her son...who if memory serves right, had been in a terrible accident, or something just as serious.  Mother absentmindedly told the woman that she would pray for her intention and hurried to hang up.   As soon as she got off the phone with the woman, Mother prayed a quick prayer in a seemingly disrespectful yet amusing way that only Mother can do, for the woman's son.  One day, she is surprised to receive a check from the woman thanking Mother profusely, for her prayers because her prayers had been answered.

According to Mother Angelica, even when we pray distractedly like that, God answers our prayers.


Prayer is really personal. There is no right or wrong way, as long as we do not pray like the hyprocites.

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Scripture citation from Matthew 6

Our prayers must come from the heart. We must be careful that our prayers, especially our daily prayers and devotions, are not said by rote.

My favorite way of praying is sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament and listening to our Lord speak to me. I love to "...gaze on the loveliness of the Lord..." (Psalm 27). I like to examine my conscience in front of Him. I love to tell Him how my day went and where I could have improved. But I feel an obligation to praying for those in need and also to fulfill my daily prayer obligations.

It is also very important that we acknowledge the graces and blessings that come from God.  Most of us do not like when we give a gift to someone and they do not acknowledge or appreciate our gift.  So why should we be in that same way, ungrateful or God?


Who we invoke for our intercessions is also important.  Rarely, does a Catholic go directly to God for help.  Most of the time, we seek the intercession of our friends, the saints for help.  There is a patron saint to help us for just about any cause or occasion.

In recent years, I have noticed that my prayers have not been answered. I regret to share this with you, but I do not think the patron saints I was calling out for help were really helping. Since I know my mother and sister have a BIG devotion to Our Lady, and knowing full well that her son Jesus, cannot say "no" to her, I now bring all my petitions to our Blessed Mother and I ask her to intercede. She is our mother. She wants to help us. She really does love us and wants the best for us.


Lastly, and because of its importance should have been mentioned above, we must pray for forgiveness. We need to do this often because not only of all the sins we commit daily that offend God, but also for all those who offend God without feeling of sorrow or regret.

Most Holy Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -
I adore You profoundly and i offer You
the most precious Body, Blood,
Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ,
present in all the tabernacles of the world,
in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges,
and indifferences by which He Himself is offended.
And by the infinite merits
of His Most Sacred Heart
and those of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I beg You for the conversion
of poor sinners. Amen.

One of the Fatima prayers World Apostolate of Fatima

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