How to have a better prayer life in 2022
I’ll let you into a secret, having a better prayer life is shockingly simple.
With a few small steps you will find that, like the kingdom of God, the capacity to pray ‘has come near to you’ (Luke 11.9). Prayer is a gift. From God. To You. Your job is to receive the gift. You are not able to make a better prayer life by your own energy, cleverness or spiritual gymnastics. Genuine prayer in fact has only a little to do with what you do, and rather a lot to do with what the Spirit of God does IN YOU. And because the Spirit is, well, spirit, you may not feel much as the Spirit is doing it. So… don’t judge your prayer time by how much you feel. In fact, try not to judge your prayer time at all. We trust in God.
Having said that, consolation in prayer is rather lovely, so if you do feel movement, encouragement, tenderness or closeness from God, praise the name of the Lord! And on the other hand, desolations are not infrequent, so if you are distracted, tired, grumpy or restless, praise the name of the Lord! (And DON’T shorten your prayer time.)
Here is a prayer starter pack to get you up and running:
- Carve out a regular time and space in your day. My own preference is early in the morning, but you have to find a time that works for you and, importantly, that you can be faithful to each day. You might start with ten minutes, and even that might seem a long time at first, but soon it won’t be long enough. If you keep going, your heart will start to hunger for a little more, and then a little more again!
- Find a chair, (I prefer one with good back support,) and sit with a straight back if you can. I like to place one open hand on top of the other in my lap, the openness of my hands a gentle reminder of the openness of my heart to God.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to come. This really is as simple as saying, with intentionality, “Come Holy Spirit”.
- Call to mind that God is good. He is a loving Father, “Abba”, not the distant judge you sometimes fear Him to be. Remember Jesus. He died for you and was raised from the dead. He is Lord, worthy of all love and praise.
- Find the readings from the Mass of the day. There are numerous online options or, of course, your trusty weekday missal. The scriptures are anointed by God’s Spirit and if you invite the Spirit to speak to you through them, the Spirit most surely will. Start with the gospel. Read it slowly, out loud if you can.
- If a word or phrase strikes you, let it resonate and ring like the reverberating of a bell in your heart. Receive it with joy.
- Just sit for a while in the silence. Rest there. The Lord is with you. Rest. This is the part of your prayer that will grow longer as you get more in the groove over time.
- End with a prayer of thanks and praise. If time allows, remember before the Lord those you love and those you know who need God’s love and light right now.
- Do it again tomorrow!
Take on these simple disciplines and you will soon find your prayer life growing. In this Advent season as we look towards Christmas, prayer is a gift that God wants to give you.
- Tim Kirk is the Chair of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn