The goal of prayer is to come into contact with God. Prayer is the means by which we come to know the Lord personally–rather than just know facts about him. As Christians we come to know God through Christ. As we seek Christ, he shows us the Father, and transforms us by deepening our faith, hope and love, giving us guidance, and strengthening us in virtue.
- Solitude: Find a place where you can be alone with the Lord for 15-30 minutes (or more) and where you can concentrate without distraction. You can’t pray well on a bus or in front of the TV.
- Good Disposition: We often come to the Lord restless. We need to have put ourselves in the right disposition to pray. One way to do this is to consider for a moment who God is and whom we are.
- Thanksgiving and Praise: A good way to begin is by thanking and praising God for all the Lord has done for us. You could even sing a song to engage your heart and mind. Thanksgiving and Praise are different. We thank God for what he has done. We praise God for who he is—regardless of what he has done for us.
- Examination of Conscience: We should examine our conscience regarding sin against the Lord and our neighbor. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you recognize your sin and ask for forgiveness and mercy. You can also ask the question, “How have I failed in love today?”
- Meditate on Scripture: Choose a passage from scripture, read it slowly and pay attention to what moves or strikes you. Ask the Lord to use this to help you to come to know and love Jesus more and to encounter him in your prayer-time. Think about the word or phrase that struck you and have a conversation with Jesus about it. The Lord will use scripture to speak to you. Another approach to meditation is one taught by St. Ignatius. With this approach, one visualizes the Gospel passage, the sights and sounds, and enters into the passage. As you do this, see what you experience and notice. What does Jesus say, what do his facial expressions convey, what are the apostles doing? Does this experience make the passage come more alive for you?
- Talk with Jesus: Tell him what is on your mind and heart. Bring to him the concerns of the day. Ask him about how you can do his will that day. This heartfelt conversation is the heart of prayer.
- Listen to Jesus: Don’t just talk but, as a good friend, listen to him speak to you about your life.
- Offer yourself: Promise to love the Lord faithfully that day in all you think, say and do.
- Intercession: Finally, conclude with intercession, first for others, then for ourselves.