I’ve been trying to schedule my day around God and set aside time for prayer throughout the day, but when I set aside the time sometimes I wonder what I’m supposed to be doing. How do I pray? How do I know I’m doing it right?
Fortunately, the weekend before Lent started, I had the opportunity to hear about prayer from the Archdiocese of Washington’s “iPray” campus ministry conference. Dominican Brother Justin Brophy reminded us that prayer is simply a relationship with Jesus Christ. It sounds easy, but often we are caught up in rubrics and novenas and can miss that the crux of our “prayer life” must be friendship with our Lord. As Brother Justin said, “You all know what relationships are and you have relationships, so you know how to pray.”
Brother went on to list his “3 A’s” of prayer: prayer is attentive, authentic, and accepting.
Prayer is attentive because in a relationship with someone you just don't see them for one hour and forget about them for the rest of the day. We must be praying throughout the day and offering up our works, joys, and sufferings to his infinite glory.
Prayer is also authentic. Jesus asks us to pray from the heart and not “babble like the pagans” (Matthew 6:7). Vocal prayers like the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Divine Office have a huge place in our prayer lives, but we are also called to deeper mental prayer, going to God telling him what's on our heart and experiencing his presence in our lives.
This leads to the final “A:” prayer is accepting. God loves us unconditionally; He accepts us as we are and calls us to relationship with him despite our faults and failures because He is the Creator of the universe and knows us more perfectly than we know ourselves. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
As we approach the Easter season with joy, let us be renewed in our relationship with Christ and ask Him as the Apostles did, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” (Luke 11:1).
Nick Wagman is the Project Management & IT Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center.