By Sister Jeanne Cmolik
You should pray always. To help you get the hang of it, here are my 10 tips for pray-ers!
- Keep it simple
You don’t have to be good at it, just do it! Start now and for five minutes, turn to God in your heart. Author Anne Lamott says the three essential prayers are “Help, Thanks, and Wow.”
- Use your own words
You don’t talk with a friend using words from a book, do you? Put aside the prayers written by someone else—beautiful as they may be—and speak from your heart. God wants to hear your voice!
- You don’t always have to use words
Sometimes the most precious time with a friend is sitting together in silence, looking at the autumn leaves or at a sunset. You’re enjoying a deep connection; you’re just not using words. Sit with God like that. You can go to a beautiful place, but you don’t have to. Just be with God.
- Stay with it
So you’re tired; you’re not in the mood to pray. You have a thousand things to do. If this is important to you, make time to do it, even if you just sit and wait for God to show up.
- Put your heart in it
Tell God why you have come. Tell your Friend that more than anything you want to be there, fully present, growing in love.
- Be honest
It’s okay to tell God you’re having a bad day (God knows it without you saying so, anyway.) Tell God what’s going on, and what you would like to change. Ask for help.
- Sing, dance, or walk your prayer
God doesn’t mind if you fall asleep while you’re praying. (I call it “resting in the Lord.”) I think God actually enjoys seeing us dozing peacefully in our prayer like little children, but if you’d like to rouse yourself and be more active in your prayer, sing a favorite song or hymn to God; use your body and do a dance for God; take a walk in God’s creation, aware of the holy presence.
- Say “thank you” before you say “please”
I think it’s a good strategy to thank God for gifts you’ve already been given before you ask for more. Begin your prayer with a list of daily blessings. (It puts God in a good mood.) If you really get into this, you may even forget what you were going to ask for, or decide you don’t really need it.
- Remember, God wants this relationship even more than you do.
Spiritual writer Joan Chittister reminds us “the God we are seeking is also seeking us.” I find this comforting, because for me it means even if I get tired of trying to find God, God never gives up finding me.
- Don’t waste time and energy evaluating the quality of your prayer.
That’s God’s business, and God doesn’t do report cards. God’s just so happy when you take the time to deepen your friendship!
Bonus Tip: Expect God to show up!
God always shows up—we just don’t know where or when. Believe this. Watch for it.
About the Author
Sister Jeanne Cmolik, CSJ, has served in various leadership positions including being a member of the Congregation Leadership Team from 2008-2013. She has also ministered in elementary schools, high schools, and parishes in the Cleveland area, and served in vocations working with new members. She enjoys reading, travel, music and writing blog posts!