Q: I recently attended a confirmation where you distributed prayer books to those being confirmed. Can you tell me more about the book? What’s the right way to use prewritten prayers in my daily prayer?
A: The book is called Thy Kingdom Come and it’s a collection of prayers from the Catholic faith tradition. I wanted to provide a prayer resource for each person receiving the sacrament of confirmation in the hope that it could assist them in their spiritual growth.
I collected many of the prayers over a 30-year period as part of my effort to help the high schoolers, college students and parishioners I’ve served to grow in their prayer lives. This book represents the culmination of several people’s efforts, especially Father Michael Pratt, the associate pastor of my former parish in Oklahoma.
I am particularly drawn to the prayers of the saints — the women and men who have shown us how to be authentic friends of Jesus for the past 2,000 years. Their examples and expressions of faith are proven paths to holiness. By praying with their words, we are better able to enter into their conversation with God and benefit from the graced relationship with which they were blessed. That’s the beauty of the communion of saints we profess in the creed!
It’s important to remember that praying is a matter not so much of repeating words but of entering into an authentic communion with God. Jesus cautioned his disciples against reducing prayer to the mere multiplication of words in Matthew 6:7. Prayer is meant to be the door that opens us to the transforming grace of God and feeds our souls. Prayer is never about changing God, but about helping us to cooperate with God’s grace so that we are changed by the encounter.
The saints show us what it’s like when a person’s life is transformed by God’s grace in both heroic and ordinary ways.
The prayers in Thy Kingdom Come are not meant to limit our experience of prayer. Rather, they should be the starting point that initiates our conversation with God. As in any effective conversation, it’s necessary that we listen more than we speak. Silence is an important part of a disciple’s daily prayer life, even when using a prayer resource like this.
Along with meditation and contemplation, vocal prayer is an important expression of the soul in its ascent to God. I hope that this devotional tool will be helpful to those who wish to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to attain communion with God in prayer.
Five tips to grow in prayer
1. Make the time.
Make quality time for prayer — it doesn’t happen by accident or when we give God the leftover minutes after a tiring and busy day.
2. Ask for help.
Ask the Holy Spirit to enter your life and help you pray as you ought.
3. Be still.
Remember to include both interior and exterior silence in your prayer so that you can listen to God speaking to you.
4. Trust God.
Be docile as clay in the hand of the Potter, humble as a creature before the Creator, and trustingly dependent as a child to its parent.
5. Pray for God’s will.
Always end your prayer with the words of Jesus who prayed, “Father, not my will but your will be done.”
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - June 2019