1. "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 APPROACHING GOD
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
CONVERSION OF HEART
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." [St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 3, 24: PG 94,1089C] But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or "out of the depths" of a humble and contrite heart? [Ps 130:1] He who humbles himself will be exalted; [Cf. Lk 18:9-14] humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that "we do not know how to pray as we ought," [Rom 8:26] are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. "Man is a beggar before God." [St. Augustine, Sermo 56, 6, 9: PL 38, 381] [2613, 2763] [C.C.C. # 2559]
SIMPLICITY OF WORDS
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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]
12. When Nehemiah prayed for his people, he said, "When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven." [Neh. 1:4] Before beginning His ministry, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights. [Mt. 4:2] The prophet Anna, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher never left the temple where Jesus was presented as the Divine Infant. She fasted and prayed night and day. [Lk. 2:37] In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that when the first Christians were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit told them that Barnabas and Saul were being commissioned to do the Lord's work. [Acts 13:2-3] In many instances, fasting, over and above praying, has obtained blessings that otherwise would not have been received from God. Fasting represents another petal that belongs to the flower.
13. Prior to fasting, the faithful should consult their family physician to ensure that this will not have an adverse effect on their health, especially when it concerns the very young, the elders, the sick, those who are physically handicapped and those on medication.
14. Performing a sacrifice is another form of pleasing prayer in the eyes of God. In the days of the Old Testament, when the people of the Jewish nation sought the favour of the Lord God, as a form of sacrifice, they turned to fasting, wore sackcloths and poured ashes over their heads. Nowadays, sacrifices may consist of fasting from food, from addictive habits, making a greater effort to abstain from a certain sin, giving more generously to the Church or another worthy cause, and similar actions.
15. A sacrifice only becomes a sacrifice when the person experiences a sense of deprivation (it hurts). As an example, holding back dessert while increasing the portion of one's meal is not a sacrifice. Going without an entire meal while being hungry is a sacrifice. Giving one dollar to a worthy cause is not a sacrifice; giving one hundred dollar is a greater sacrifice that would deprive the person of other possible worldly benefits such as smoking, drinking, drugs, a trip, clothing, jewelry, etc... Each meaningful sacrifice adds a petal to the flower that is presented to God.
16. When appealing to God for a favour, it is necessary to have a sound faith. In other words, one's faith must be balanced. Those who believe that God will answer their prayers because they were baptized and married in the Catholic Church, but who never go to Church on Sunday, nor support their local Church, do not have a sound faith. Their faith is artificial; they are Catholics in a name only.
17. Faith without actions is dead. Jesus gave us the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist for our sanctification. Spiritual growth is gained through one's association with the Body of Christ, the Church. It is not gained through one's personal opinion of what faith should be, such excluding worshipping with other Catholics.
THE SACRAMENTAL LIFE
18. Jesus said, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the
kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit." [Jn. 3:5]
Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus commissioned His disciples. He
said, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the
whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be
saved; but the one who does not believe (and is not baptized) will
be condemned." [Mk. 16:15-16]
19. In the days of the Old Testament, who did God favour? He favoured one people, the Jewish nation. Whom does God favour today? He favours one people, the Church that His beloved Son Jesus has instituted on earth. It is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
20. Without Baptism, there is no living hope of ever entering the Kingdom of God. Without the Sacrament of Baptism, you are only a creation of God; with the Sacrament of Baptism, you are a child of God. [Rom. 8:15] Those who seek to have their prayers answered, they should first seek to receive the Sacrament of Baptism.
21. The Sacrament of Baptism entitles the believer to call upon His Father, Abba, [Rom. 8:15] in order to present Him with a flower worthy of giving to God.
[Note: The previous references to the Sacrament of Baptism includes Baptism by Blood and Baptism by Desire. While Jesus has instituted the Sacraments of the Catholic Church as an absolute necessity to maintain one's righteousness and as an assurance of the free gift of salvation, God is not bound by His Sacraments. He can and does make exceptions under certain circumstances. "The Lord himself affirmed that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commanded his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments." (C.C.C. # 1257)]
THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION
22. The authority that comes with the Sacrament of Confirmation represents two petals on the flower that is being presented to God. "Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. [Cf. Roman Ritual, Rite of Confirmation (OC), Introduction 1.] For 'by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to ‘spread’ and ‘defend’ the faith by word and deed.' [LG 11; Cf. OC, Introduction 2] (C.C.C. # 1285)"
23. He who has received the authority through the Sacrament of Confirmation, but he does not ‘spread’ and ‘defend’ the Catholic faith, his flower lacks two petals.
LIVING ONE'S FAITH
24. Prior to ‘spreading’ and ‘defending’ one's faith, it is necessary to practice it. This is absolutely necessary prior to approaching God in prayer. Practising one's faith consists of doing good works [Jas. 2:17-18], obeying the commandments, tithing [Lk. 6:38], going to Church on Sunday, [Canon Law # 1245; C.C.C. # 2181] helping the poor, etc...
FAITHFUL TO THE CHURCH TEACHING
25. When one claims to be a Catholic, not only must he practice his faith, spread and defend it, he must also accept all of the teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. He who opposes the Church teaching on abortion, birth control, same sex marriage, etc... cannot, and does not obey the true God who guides the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church in its teachings.
26. He who spreads, defends, practices, and accepts all of the teachings of the Catholic Church, he gains four petals on the flower that is presented to God in a prayer petition. Does your flower have all of these four petals?
THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION
27. Jesus told Simon, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." [Mt. 16:19-20]
28. In the above Bible passage, two important factors are emphasized. First of all, it affirms that it is necessary for Catholic to receive the Sacrament of Confession in order to have their sins forgiven.
29. Secondly, by giving the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter who was the first Pope of the only Church that Jesus instituted on earth, our Lord was authorizing the administration of the Sacrament of Confession through apostolic succession. In other words, Peter was given the authority to hand down his power of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession to all those who would succeed him, that being past, present and future Bishops and priests of the Catholic Church.
30. The Sacrament of Confession embellishes the flower. It takes away every possible flaws that can be found on any of the petals.
31. May I also point out that Jesus also said, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." [Mt. 6:14-15] (C.C.C. # 2608) And finally, He said that you must not forgive others seven times of their trespasses, but seventy-seven times. [Mt. 18:22]
32. There is no in-between when it comes to forgiveness, either you forgive or you do not forgive. If you cannot find it in your heart to forgive, the Sacrament of Confession cannot help you. For the promise of Jesus to be binding in the Sacrament of Confession, the sinners must show a sincere regret for his sins.
THE SACRAMENT OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST
33. Regarding the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: "All gather together. Christians come together in one place for the Eucharistic assembly. At its head is Christ himself, the principal agent of the Eucharist. He is high priest of the New Covenant; it is he himself who presides invisibly over every Eucharistic celebration. It is in representing him that the bishop or priest acting in the person of Christ the head (in persona Christi capitis) presides over the assembly, speaks after the readings, receives the offerings, and says the Eucharistic Prayer. All have their own active parts to play in the celebration, each in his own way: readers, those who bring up the offerings, those who give communion, and the whole people whose "Amen" manifests their participation. (C.C.C. # 1140, 1348, 1548)
34. The Holy Mass, at which time the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is distributed, is a gathering of Jesus, Who is present but invisible, and of the faithful. They come together to worship the Lord God and to receive His Real Presence in the form of the Consecrated Host.
35. To receive the Eucharist while in a state of grace and good standing with the Holy Catholic Church is symbolic of the Lord Jesus accepting the perfect flower that is being presented to Him. As the Eucharist unites Jesus and the believer as one, the symbolic flower unites Jesus and the petitioner as one.
36. Regarding those who receive the Eucharist while they are not in a state of grace, Saint Paul teaches us, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." [1 Cor. 11:27-30]
37. Jesus commanded us to repeat His actions and words (Last Supper, the Holy Mass, the distribution of the Holy Eucharist) until He comes. (C.C.C. # 1341) "From the beginning the Church has been faithful to the Lord's command. Of the Church of Jerusalem it is written: 'They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.... Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts. [Acts 2:42, 46]'" (C.C.C. # 1342)
38. "It was above all on "the first day of the week," Sunday, the day of Jesus' resurrection, that the Christians met "to break bread." [Acts 20:7] From that time on down to our own day the celebration of the Eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it everywhere in the Church with the same fundamental structure. It remains the centre of the Church's life." (C.C.C. # 1166, 1343, 2177)
39. "Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the Paschal mystery of Jesus "until he comes," the pilgrim People of God advances, "following the narrow way of the cross," [AG 1; cf. 1 Cor 11:26] toward the heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table of the kingdom. " (C.C.C. # 1344)
THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE
40. Christ instituted the Sacrament of Marriage. (C.C.C. # 1210) "The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws.... God himself is the author of marriage." [GS 48 º one] (C.C.C. 1603)
41. According to the law of God, the Sacrament of Marriage cannot be dissolved. (C.C.C. # 1615) The marriage unity between a man and a woman was designed to be permanent while both spouses lived on earth.
42. According to the law that is in force in the Roman Catholic Church, for a mixed marriage to be valid, it requires the express permission of the governing authority. [Cf. CIC, can. 1124] "In case of disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage. [Cf. CIC, can. 1086] This permission or dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential ends and properties of marriage; and furthermore that the Catholic party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the non-Catholic party, of preserving his or her own faith and ensuring the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church. [Cf. CIC, can. 1125]" (C.C.C. # 1635)
43. A Sacramental Marriage that is administered according to the requirements of the Church is as another petal on the flower presented to God during a prayer petition. That petal is lost when a person either lives in a common-law relationship, marries outside the Catholic Church, marries before a Justice of the Peace, or lives in a same sex relationship. To marry outside the Catholic Church means to renounce the Sacramental Marriage and the Catholic faith itself. Such a person can no longer receive the Sacrament of Communion until such time as the situation has been corrected.
44. He who lives in mortal sin, such as in a common-law relationship, cannot expect God to answer his prayers. Regarding divorce, God said in the Old Testament, "For I hate divorce... So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless." [Mal. 2:16]
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GODTHANKSGIVING
45. When Jesus heard ten lepers calling out to Him, after healing
them, He sent them to show themselves to the priests as was the
Jewish custom when a leper's medical condition had changed. Only
one, a Samaritan, returned to thank Jesus and praise God when he
saw that he had been healed. Jesus asked him, "Were not ten made
clean." [Lk. 17:11-19] Only one of ten showed appreciation to the
Lord Jesus for manifesting his love and glory.
46. The Holy Bible states, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." [1 Thess. 5:16-18]
47. Unfortunately, the Sacred Words of Jesus and the inspired Words of God often go to deaf ears. Nowadays, few give thanks at meals. And few give thanks to God for the blessings that they have received as a result of their prayers. Has society become so disrespectful that many believe that God owes them whatever they ask? Those who cannot find it in their heart to give thanks to the Lord God, they lack a large petal on their flower.
PRAISING AND GLORIFYING GOD
48. "Say to God, 'How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you. All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.'" [Ps. 66:3]
49. Jesus blessed the world with a beautiful prayer that is most pleasing to the Heavenly Father, the "Lord's Prayer." Jesus said, pray then in this way:
"Our Father in Heaven,
hallowed be Your Name.
Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one." [Mt. 6:9-13]
50. The Lord's prayer is rich and complete in itself. It teaches you how to praise the Heavenly Father. It teaches submission to the Will of God. It shines in Divine love that is reflected by the soul's forgiveness of others and God's mercy for such a soul. It asks God for His protection against temptations.
51. "Very early on," in the early days of the Christian Church, "liturgical usage concluded the Lord's Prayer with a doxology. In the Didache, we find, 'For yours are the power and the glory for ever.' [Didache 8, 2: SCh 248, 174.] (C.C.C. # 2760)
52. In this conclusion, the Lord's Prayer ends by glorifying the Almighty Father. No prayer is greater than this perfect prayer that was taught by Jesus. Those who praise the Lord God, they enjoy an additional petal on their flower!
SEEKING THE KINGDOM
53. Other than many of the saints, very few believers have fully understood the meaning of trusting in Divine Providence. Everyone wants to control his own life. Jesus said to not worry about what you will eat, drink or wear. For it is the Gentiles (nonbelievers) who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. [Mt. 6:31-33] (C.C.C. # 2608)
54. Jesus is pleased with those who seek His Kingdom first, placing their entire trust in Him to provide their needs while they move forward by the power of the Holy Spirit as instruments of the Lord. Such believers trust in the Lord to provide all things, be it their spouse, suitable employment, the opportunity to spread and defend the Gospel, all according to the Divine Will. Such a quality is worthy of another flower petal.
CALLING AND LISTENING TO THE LORD
55. How would you feel if someone was using you, always asking favours from you? How would you feel if that person never called you to really get to know you, nor ever listened to you? That person only expected that his demands would be fulfilled! Sometimes, this is how Jesus feels.
56. To enjoy a holy relationship with God, it is necessary to call on Him at times, just as a child calls on a parent. God is your Father and you, as a baptized believer, are entitled to call upon Him to talk to Him and to listen to Him. Yes, to listen to Him. There is a time to talk and there is a time to listen. If you do all the talking, when will you ever hear God speaking to you in your heart? When will you ever hear the inner voice of the Holy Spirit who seeks to guide you in all things? Five, ten, fifteen minutes of silence, these are necessary at times in order to hear how the Divine Will of God applies to you.
57. When you learn to listen to the Lord, you begin to experience what the two disciples of Jesus experienced on the road to Aims. Quoting from the Holy Scriptures, these two disciples said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the Scriptures to us?” [Lk. 24:32] Through this form of communication with the Lord Jesus is received the gift of the Word of Knowledge [one Cor. 12:8] whereas the eyes of the believer are opened to Church teachings that would otherwise remain mysterious.
58. Here we understand the Words of Jesus when He said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants... All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” [Mt.10:25-27]
59. In general, to adore God means to worship He Who is Divine. It means to revere Him, to venerate Him, to show great love and honour. It means to spend time before the Real Presence of the Lord God in the Church, either in front of the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament or the Sacred Tabernacle where Jesus dwells. To adore Jesus is to visit Him in His House, His Church, the Catholic Church, the Holy Temple.
60. To visit Jesus in His Church is the first step towards the greatest form of adoration. To be on one’s knees, having one’s eyes focussed on the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus is the second step towards the greatest form of adoration. During such adoration, by the grace of God, the believer is soaked in the Divine love of Jesus. Adoration can and should become so rich and intense that it surpasses the dimension of time and space. Frozen in time, the believer reaches the threshold (the entrance/the doorway) of the spiritual world, Heaven, the spiritual Kingdom of God. Frozen in time, the ultimate state of adoration becomes a state of ecstasy, an uninterrupted existence during which the believer is totally focussed on the supernatural, having lost all awareness of his worldly surroundings.
61. Adoration fulfills the Sacred Words of Jesus, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” [Jn. 4:23-4] When the believer is elevated to the threshold of Heaven during adoration, while he is in this world, he is no longer of this world. He is worshipping God in spirit.
62. Adoration differs from receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. When the believer receives the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, he enjoys a physical communion (union) with the Real Presence of Jesus in the Consecrated Host. When a believer enjoys the fullness of adoration, his spirit is in communion at a spiritual level in the Real Presence of the Blessed Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
63. In the first instance, it is symbolic of the believer presenting a flower to Jesus on a physical level during the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. In the second instance, it is symbolic of the believer presenting a perfect flower to God on a spiritual level. Each presentation has its merits, one on the physical level, the other on the spiritual level.
64. Meditation is another valuable form of prayers. In the silence of the home or Church environment, it consists of contemplating, pondering, on the mysteries of God. The believer may meditate on a multitude of subjects such as the creation, the Blessed Trinity, why God created him/her, the establishment of the Church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Divine Will, etc... Daily meditation is food to the spiritual life of the believer. Those who meditate on a regular basis, they have an additional petal that remains attached to their flower.
READING THE WORD OF GOD
65. Another form of prayer consists of reading the Word of God. When you read the Word of God (the Holy Bible), you open the door to inspirations from the Holy Spirit, permitting Him to speak to you in your heart. From inspirations, you gain spiritual knowledge, understanding and wisdom that benefits both, your spiritual and your worldly growth.
66. When offered up to God, suffering becomes a form of prayer. Suffering, although very painful at time, has the benefit of drawing people to God if they are receptive to this grace. Some people go their entire lives without praying until suddenly, they are involved in an accident or experience an illness, sometimes fatal. Then, and then only, do they turn to God.
67. While God does not wish suffering upon anyone, as living being in the physical world, we are called to die. And with aging often comes suffering. To many, suffering is their last opportunity to turn to God. If they close the door to God’s grace, they risk being eternally lost.
68. When a suffering soul offers up its pain to God, this is similar to having another petal on their flower. Suffering can be offered up to God and accepted in one’s life so that the grace of God may touch other souls who otherwise would be lost. This is like saying to God, “Here Lord, I am giving you $100.00. Please give $10.00 to 10 different souls in order for them to look up to you.” No one knows exactly how many souls can benefit by offering up one’s suffering. But we do know from the lives of some of the Saints who were in daily communion with God that one’s suffering does benefit other souls.
69. We can curse our sufferings or we can offer them up to God to save souls. The Holy Bible teaches us that those who lead many to righteousness (save souls), shall shine like stars forever and ever.” [Dan. 12:3] This is the reward that awaits those who have failed to save souls by preaching and defending their faith, but who, as a final hope, offered up their sufferings.
PRAYING FOR OTHERS
70. When praying, we should not be selfish. We should pray for the others before praying for ourselves. St Paul taught, "My dearly beloved, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." [1 Tim. 2:1-4]
71. We must always petition God for the growth of the Church, the Body of Christ [2 Thess 3:1-2], for the sanctification of our religious and political leaders, and for religious vocations. (C.C.C. # 2613) [Lk. 18:1-8, 1 Tim. 2:1-4] We must intercede for those who are too sick to pray, for those who are discouraged, the poor, the widows, the orphans, the prisoners, the abandoned, etc...
72. Jesus told us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us. (C.C.C. # 2608) [Mt 5:44-45] He also maintained that before we pray, we must reconcile with our brothers. (C.C.C. # 2608) [Mt. 5:23-24, 6:14-15] If we cannot see Christ in our brothers and sisters who are Temples of the Holy Spirit through their baptism, how can we pray to God? By rejecting someone in who God dwells, we reject God Himself. Surely, in such a case, our prayers will not be answered.
73. One’s inability to forgive another person is the greatest obstacle to his sanctification. Such a behaviour echoes a hardened heart.
BELIEVING IN JESUS
74. The Holy Bible, the Catholic Church and its Catechism all teach us that we must pray to Jesus alone. Why? Because there is one Mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all. (C.C.C. # 2614) [Jn. 14:13-4, 1 Tim. 2:5] Why? Because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. [Jn. 14:6]
75. Jesus taught His followers, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it.” [Jn. 15:7] “When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.” [Mk. 11:24] That messages was intended for all those who would accept Jesus as their Saviour.
76. When Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you,” He was saying, if you can present to me the perfect blooming flower, “then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it.”
77. “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.” [Heb. 11:1] If we do not believe we will get what we ask for, how can we expect to receive it? How often do the faithful pray, adding, “If it be the Will of God.” This is their way of rationalizing that they will not get the favour they ask because they have no faith.
78. When Jesus went to His hometown at Nazareth, He was rejected. Accordingly, “Because they did not have faith, Jesus did not perform many miracles there.” [Mt. 13:58; Mk. 6:1-6; Lk. 4:16-30] If you do not believe that you will be blessed with what you ask, you will not receive it!
79. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.’” [Mt.22:21-2]
80. St. James says in the Holy Bible, “But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”[Jas. 1:6] And if the need be, pray for faith; for faith in Jesus is worth another petal on your flower.
81.. One thing Jesus could not stand was the hypocrites, those who prayed in public so everyone would see how holy they were. There was no holiness whatsoever in them. And when they prayed, they considered themselves holier than the ones beside them. Because of their lack of humility, their prayers were rejected.
82. On this subject, Jesus said, And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” [Mt. 6:5-6]
83. Private prayers may include any of the forms of prayers mentioned in this writing, or devotions such as the Rosary, Litanies, Novenas, reading the Holy Bible, interceding for others, etc... It is not the number of prayers that counts, but what comes from the heart.
84. While private prayers have their place in the prayer life, there is also a necessity for public prayers. Attending the Holy Mass is a perfect example of public prayers. When you worship together, you are participating in public prayers. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” [Mt. 18:20]
85. When you pray in unity with the mystical Body of Christ, you have the privilege of asking the assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, including all the heavenly saints and angels. You are never alone! When you continuously pray in public, you enjoy a permanent petal on your flower.
86. Singing is a form of prayer that has been practised since the early days of the Catholic Church. In the Holy Bible, we read, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them." [Acts 16:25] Elsewhere, we read, "... and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God." [Col. 3:16]
87. When the angel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah, she sang the Magnificat to God. [Lk. 1:46-55]
88. Singing, accompanied by music is a form of prayer that dates back to the days of the Old Testament. In it we read, "Your solemn processions are seen, O God, the processions of my God, my King, into the sanctuary - the singers in front, the musicians last, between them girls playing tambourines." [Ps. 68:24-5] Singing and playing music is equal to two additional petals on one’s flower that is being presented to God.
ACTS OF LOVE
89. "Faith without works is dead." [Jas. 2:26] Works, the public displaying of Christian love towards others is a form of prayer. When you help the widows, care for the sick, visit the prisoners, assist the elderly, these are all acts of love towards others. Such acts embellish your flower.
90. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, these are fruits of the Holy Spirit. [Gal 5:22-3] "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." [1 Cor. 13:4-8]
91. When comparing faith, hope and love to each other, of these three, the greatest is love. [1 Cor. 13:13]
PRAYING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
92. Did you know that the Holy Spirit has been given to us so that He may pray through us, especially when we are left speechless in times of need? "The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." [Rom. 8:26-7]
93. When all seems hopeless, total despair, it is sufficient to say, "Holy Spirit, You know what is within my heart. Please, intercede on my behalf before the Lord. Thank you Holy Spirit." The praying soul should then remain still and quiet for awhile, showing gratitude to the Holy Spirit Who is interceding on his behalf. Allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through you entitles you to another petal on the flower.
94. Witnessing as to how God answers prayers and changes lives glorifies the Lord, giving thanks for the past blessings that were received. As such, it is a form of prayer. At the same time, it plants seeds or lights sparks. Consequently, some souls are converted to the faith; others, their faith is re-ignited.
95. Those who witness, they inherit another petal to their flower because they clearly show that they are not ashamed of Jesus. As for the others, Jesus said, "Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." [Lk. 9:26; Mk. 8:38]
96. Have you ever heard someone say, "If God blesses me with this need, I promise to never sin again." While this is a conditional prayer, it is an unrealistic one because we are all sinners and no one has the capability to stop sinning. Therefore, a prayer as this one is fruitless. It will never be answered.
97. History has proven that conditional prayers have been answered when they were properly directed to God. What kind of prayers are these? Take the case of a person who is dying of cancer, given two months to live. The person promises to God that if she obtains a special favour, if she is healed or given an extension to life, she will write a book about the love of God in order to glorify Him and make Him known to others. God hears her prayer and she is healed.
98. One has to realize that this conditional promise will demand much time to research and write the book, over and above having to invest money for its publishing. This is the nature of the sacrifice that the person is prepared to make in order to obtain the special favour.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT PRAYING6 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN PRAYING
99. When praying, to ensure that your prayer is not selfish, ask
yourself the following six questions. If they are all properly
answered, your heart being in the right place, you gain another
petal on your flower.
99.1. If answered, will this prayer glorify God?
99.2. If answered, will this prayer lead to your sanctification?
99.3. Will others be hurt by this answered prayer?
99.4. Will you be mastered by this answered prayer? Will the answered prayer master the soul such as when winning a million dollar and becoming under the control of money?
99.5. Do you really need this answered prayer?
99.6. Can you do without this answered prayer?
5 REASONS WHY WE SHOULD PRAY
100. There are five important reasons as to why we should pray:
100.1. God is the Creator and giver of all things.
100.2. God is worthy of prayer.
100.3. Prayer is the means by which the soul communicates with God.
100.4. Jesus taught the necessity to pray.
100.5. God answers prayers.
WHEN SHOULD WE PRAY?
101. The Holy Bible teaches us that we should pray without ceasing, always giving thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. [1 Thes. 5:17-8]
WHERE SHOULD WE PRAY?
102. The Holy Bible teaches that you should pray everywhere, lifting up your hands in holiness, without doubting or insincere thoughts. [1 Tim. 2:8]
103. Does praying require that we attend a church? Not necessarily. God is everywhere and there are sanctifying benefits to worshipping in different locations. When we pray in the Church, we pray in the physical presence of Jesus who is in the Holy Tabernacle. During the celebration of the Mass, we have the opportunity to receive the physical presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. When we pray outside the Church, we are in the spiritual presence of Jesus who dwells within us.
HOW SHOULD WE PRAY?
104. Sincere prayer is offered with a humble heart in complete obedience to God. "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." [2 Chr. 7:14]
105. What posture should you take when you pray? Praying on one's knees is an established Christian practice. "Then Jesus withdrew from them about stone's thrown, knelt down, and prayed." [Lk. 22:41] In the Old Testament, Nehemiah prayed before the King while standing up. [Neh. 2:4]
106. The posture that should be taken at the moment of prayer will vary depending on how your heart feels, how it has been called by God to pray. If you are laying in bed while preparing to retire for the night and feels a need to talk to God, you can do so while laying down. The importance of the posture is secondary in comparison to the importance of maintaining a daily communication with God, be it while taking a walk, sitting down, relaxing or reflecting upon God during work. As your relationship grows in God, the Holy Spirit will teach you, telling you what posture you should take in reverence for God's almightiness.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE PRAY?
107. "You should pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints." [Eph. 6:18]
108. When one has God in his heart, he uses every opportunity to pray to God in order to maintain ongoing spiritual strength. "Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." [1 Chr. 16:11]
109. The proper number of times per day to converse with Jesus cannot be measured. This would be like asking, "How many times should I speak to my spouse during the day?" There will be moments when God will inspire you to pray (God speaking to you) and moments when God's burning love within your own heart will move you to pray on your own. Praying then becomes an ongoing sharing of love. The frequency of praying can then be compared to the amount of time spouses speak to each other during the day.
110. Considering the fact that not all souls have achieved this level of sanctification, the Bible provides guidelines as to how often a soul should pray. Daniel prayed three times a day. Dan. 6:10] One Bible passage mentions praying in the morning. "O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch." [Ps. 5:3]
111. Another Bible passages mentions praying three times a day. "Evening and morning and at noon, I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice." [Ps. 55:17]
112. When prayer is only done twice a day, it is recommended that it be done in the morning and in the evening. The morning prayer is an opportunity to thank God for the new day and to ask for the needs of the day. The evening prayer is an opportunity to thank God for the needs that were received during the day, taking a few moments to reflect upon the day and finally asking God for protection during the night.
THE FULLNESS OF THE PRAYER LIFE
113. First, by the grace of God, you receive the Word "of" God. God speaks to you in your heart.
114. Secondly, you walk "with" God. You converse daily with God in the same way that you would maintain a conversation with another person.
115. Thirdly, you walk "for" God. This involves sharing with others the joy that you have found in Jesus for the glory of God.
116. These three actions represent the fullness of the prayer life. You receive God's love through the Word. You grow in love through your conversation with God. And you flourish by sharing the Word of God with others.
117. By following the above guideline, you should be able to grow in your spiritual life. Accordingly, you will begin to see the hand of God at work in your life. You will see some prayers answered according to your spiritual needs as God determines what is best for you. May the Holy Spirit guide you from here on in your spiritual growth in the Most Holy Name of Jesus for the glory of the Heavenly Father.
118. And may your future presentations of a flower to God be perfected through the newly gained knowledge that you have obtained on how you should pray.
This completes the beautiful course "How To Pray." I pray
that this spiritual tool has greatly enriched your spiritual life so
you may continue to grow in Jesus.
The Catholic Doors Ministry encourages you to continue in your personal studies so that you may continue to grow in the knowledge and understanding of the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church.
To COMPLETE the Exam for this course, please click HERE (EXAM)