Now that you have a place set aside for prayer, a time for your appointment, and you know whom you are meeting, let’s talk about what to do next. Remember, Jesus is our model for prayer, and he taught us to pray saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven…” So let’s take the Our Father step by step to walk us through our prayer time.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Acknowledgements and Praise. We should always begin our prayer time by praising God. “Praise puts you in right relationship with God. By praising Him, you are submitted to Him, He is the master and you are His servant. He is the glorious, almighty, eternal, everlasting one and you are a struggling, sinful creature dependent upon Him for redemption and grace, faith and hope, salvation and truth. This is the perspective we should have. It isn’t, ‘God, old buddy, come into my corner here and snuggle up by the fire place.’ “ (21).
Let’s use Revelations 7:10 as a model for praise: “All the angels and elders fell down before the throne to worship God. They said, Amen! Praise and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving and honor, power and might, to our God forever and ever. Amen!”
That kind of awe and respect is the response we should have to God. God doesn’t need us, we need God. He desires us, he loves us, and wants to commune with us, but we need to recognize our place and praise helps us to do just that. (21)
Fr. Scanlan says, “I have found that the Holy Spirit stirs our spirits to prayer when we center on the glory of Jesus Christ and address Him under His various titles.” (23). Here is a list of names for Jesus you can use to begin your praise: http://blog.adw.org/2012/05/150-titles-of-christ-from-the-scriptures/
You can also use the Psalms as an aid to praising God. Once you have become aware of who you are and who God is, then you are ready to move on to hearing His word.
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done
Listening and Revelation. Fr. Scanlan writes that, “Often, as soon as I move deeply into praising God and have a clear understanding of His holiness and my unworthiness, I get a revelation about what has to change in my life.” (28)
Let God speak to you in Scripture. It’s not just reading words, it’s meeting the living God. Read scripture until you experience an anointing in your spirit as you read the words. Ask God to show you the meaning of these words for your life. As the Spirit breathed into it when it was being written, so the Spirit breathes life into the Scriptures for you. (28)
Every time you hear God, it will be twice as easy to hear Him the next time. God speaks in silence. You have to silence yourself and practice listening to his voice. And once you are still enough to hear it and begin to recognize it, His voice will be unmistakable.
As you read Scripture more, you will be able to say, “This is the God of Scripture, the God who has worked and has moved in my life before.” The voice of God will also not contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, the more you get to know how God speaks in Scripture and what the Church teaches, the more you will recognize Him in your own prayer life.
Remember who needs to change during this appointment: you, not God. A crucial element in prayer is listening to God and hearing his word so you can change. So practice listening, learn to listen so you can recognize his voice. When my children are downstairs yelling for Mommy, I know which child it is because I recognize their voice (I hear it all day long!) So, too, will you learn to hear to God’s voice in stillness and silence.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses
Realism and Repentence. God wants you to be real with Him. You are talking to the God who knows you inside and out. It isn’t performance time. Be real, be true, be honest and say what is on your heart in your own language. (34)
There are a lot of things that go wrong in life and there are a lot of problems we haven’t solved. We must be willing to lay them all out before God. If we don’t, He won’t give us the solutions to the problems or the wisdom, enlightenment or the grace to deal with them. (34)
Then, having received God’s revelation, we are usually called to some kind of repentance. Here are the basic steps of repentance:
1. See an action in your life that is wrong or unrighteous
2. Declare that it is sinful
3. Take responsibility and say, “I did it”
4. Tell the Lord, “I’m sorry, please forgive me”
5. Receive his forgiveness and make a resolution not to sin again.
God is the only one who knows our sins and problems, and secondly, he’s the only one who can do anything about them! So confess your sins and problems in your prayer. Admit you are a sinner and what your faults are.
Finally, humble yourself in that right relationship with God. Repentance is much more than asking forgiveness for sins. It involves anything that turns our lives more toward God or deepens our commitment to be a faithful disciple.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
Petition and Intercession. If we commit ourselves to God, take His word first as to how we should look at things, how we should pray, and how we should approach life, He will act on our behalf. He has the best possible plan available for your life and mine. (46) John 15:7 says, ‘If you live in me, and my words stay part of you, you may ask what you will and it will be done for you.’
Here are some steps to take for your time of intercession:
1. Find out your niche in prayer. Are you being called to pray for priests, or one specific priest? Are you being asked to pray for all troubled youth, or just the ones in your family?
2. Commit yourself to regular intercession daily. Write down what you are praying for and use daily discipline to be faithful in your intercession.
“By going back to God day after day you are really saying, “God, you’ve got two choices, either answer my prayer or change my mind as to what you want to do, but I’m just going to continue praying until my prayer is answered.” (48)
3. Prayer and fasting go hand in hand. Commit to fasting weekly. “Going without food, especially the foods you most enjoy, is ordinarily healthy for your spirit and your body. Pray and fast for particular reasons and intentions.” (49)
4. Do not lose heart! So many people give up on God because they lack perseverance and patience or they continue their prayer in a hopeless routine manner.” But as St. Paul said, “Run so as to win the race.”
Every time Fr. Scanlan sat down for prayer and saw a need, he would say, “God, what’s your mind on this situation?” And whatever seemed right to him in prayer he would write down and begin interceding for that need. As of the time he wrote this booklet, he had 118 specific journal entries of what he believed God wanted him to pray for. So far, 102 of them had been answered exactly as he wrote them down, 14 were ongoing situations, and two of them had seemingly failed. He concluded he heard God wrong on how those two should be fulfilled.
Fr. Scanlan reminds us that, “Jesus is interceding at this very moment at the right of God for you and for me, for our eternal happiness and well being. He just needs us to be committed to what He is doing and to join Him in prayer.” (53)
For Catholics, the best way to join Him with our intercessions is to join in the Eucharist , putting our petitions with the bread and wine to be offered in the gift of Jesus to the Father. Another powerful form of intercession is the Rosary. “The repetitious joining with Mary and petitioning deepens our prayer and unites it with the continual prayer of Mary before the throne of God.” (53) Litanies and Novenas are also good forms of intercession.
Response and Resolutions
Now that your prayer is coming to a close, it’s time to make some resolutions. Whatever God put on your heart to change or to pray for, write it down and make a commitment to do it. We need to realize that the commitments we make are important and God takes them seriously.
“Put everything you have into your response to God. Don’t be afraid to give God your all. He will bless you and grace you to achieve all He has called you to. Respond quickly and without hesitation.” (56)
Finally, remember that the devil does not want you to pray. Satan will put thoughts and images and doubts in your mind. You will have more things that come to mind during your time of prayer than any other time of day to distract you. Tell Satan to get out of here in the name of Jesus!
May the Lord bless you and your prayer time this week.