Practical Prayer: Why We Do It and How to Get Started

Palm Sunday Prayer

Prayer is the key to Christian life. It forms and informs our relationship with God the Father and thus our lives. Without a relationship with the Father, we “Have to go to Mass” rather than “We get to go to Mass and encounter God.” Without prayer, scripture is nothing more than literature, that may be of some passing interest, rather than being what it is: the divinely inspired Word of God.

Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus in prayer with the Father, especially at important moments of his life. The evidence of his relationship with the Father is so deep that his disciples finally ask him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1) and, in response to their request, He gives us the Our Father.

We, like the apostles, may be wondering how to pray to God; how do we start? What do we say? But prayer is actually very simple; it is talking to God who is already in your heart. Start with whatever it is that is on your heart, your joys, sorrows, worries, or fears. 

Three tips: pray every day, preferably at the same time and in the same place. This will help you create a habit of prayer. Start small, perhaps only three to five minutes. Set a timer if it helps. Morning or evening are traditional times of prayer. I keep a notepad handy to write down whatever it is that is distracting me from prayer. “Get milk, check.” 

An important practical element of prayer is silence. God speaks to us in silence. When Jesus says, “Go to your inner room to pray” (Matt 6:6) and close the door, that means go find a quiet place to pray. I have a friend who put a chair and a lamp under a staircase and now that is his spot. 

Be gentle with yourself. If you miss a day, simply try again the next day. God is looking forward to hearing from you.

Deacon John Bauch