How to Pray
If you are to pray, know before you begin that the purpose of prayer is to open our hearts to the living God who has revealed his love in Jesus. This makes prayer different from other forms of meditation.
We do not pray to go deeper into our hearts and souls, though we cannot truly go deep into ourselves without God leading us. We do not pray to gain inner peace, though often a prayerful person will gain great peace from God. But we pray to open our hearts to God. We receive his love and in our poor way try to love him in return.
If you want to pray, first of all be still. Try to still your mind and your body. You might want to focus on a picture of Jesus, on a candle or on a cross. You might want to repeat the name of Jesus, or a verse of scripture, or maybe the word ‘love.’ It takes a few minutes to be still.
Once you are still, try saying the Lord’s prayer. Say it slowly, line by line. Let each word have its worth. Slowly you will find your heart opening to God.
You will have people to pray for – mention their names before God. But remember that he knows them and loves them already, so you need not use many words. You will want to pray for people at war, those in deep need and those suffering form hunger or neglect. Again tell God about them. But do not lose your stillness.
You will be aware of God’s holiness; this also means you will be aware of your own imperfection and sinfulness. Look for God’s forgiveness, but do not lose your stillness.
You will want to adore God who so loves you. Use as few words as possible. Lose yourself in God’s presence, but do not lose your stillness.
Sometimes God will feel very close – be thankful. Sometimes God will feel far away or absent – do not worry. God is calling you forward, deepening your faith – for faith is always far more than what we feel.
Pray every day. It is better to pray every day for five minutes than to pray for an hour every now and again. Remember always that God loves you – prayer is grounded in love. Prayer without love is worthless. To open our hearts to the God who loves us so much – this is true life, and this is deep joy.