According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” (CCC2559). The Catechism goes on to ask, “but when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart?” So, one might ask how do we raise our mind and heart in a humble and contrite way?
First, we must have faith that God wants to be in relationship with us. God wants us to pray. In faith we can trust that God will help us to pray. That is why it is important to pray before you pray. The first prayer of prayer should be to ask the Holy Spirit to come and enliven our hearts, open our minds, and direct our thoughts, words, and actions.
Humility plays a big role in prayer. Many see humility as a virtue of low self-esteem. That is not true. Humility is a virtue of acknowledging the truth about reality. Through humility we recognize our dependence on God. A humble stance opens us to the gifts of prayer and prepares us to speak to God with authenticity and to listen with the ear of our heart.
Our attention in prayer is important yet difficult. We are human and we get distracted. Our mind wanders. But, when we try our best, God will be with us. The more we practice focusing our attention, the more attentive we will be. When our minds are attentive to God, our hearts will be enflamed with a sincere longing for God.
During a reading class in college my professor constantly said the best way to learn to read is to read. The same is true for prayer. The best way to learn to pray is to pray. “The life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of God” (CCC 2565). Let us pray…