Hello ladies and gentlemen. As you could guess from my question, I have some trouble with prayer. Mainly, I don’t know what to focus on. All I really achieve Is cutting myself off from the world. I can’t “think” prayers, so to speak, because my mind goes a mile-a-minute, so I typically try to speak, or a least mouth the sound of, my prayers. But I feel nothing. I’ve only felt something twice before in my prayers, when I got saved at a prostantant alter, (I still am prostestant, though I am learning of the true faith) and one isolated incident where I was praying in school, which was strange mix of emotions and feelings that I can’t explain briefly. Both of which occurred when I was silent, with either the Pastor talking or I was just trying to focus. So I ask, how can I lead more effective prayer?
This alone is a great start. Don’t underestimate the value of this.
What are you expecting? Prayer doesn’t always produce feelings. That’s not really the point. For example, I love my wife; still, we may have several conversations that I can barely recall and there’s little to no feeling involved because they’re utilitarian: “Did you pick up the groceries today?” or “What would you like for dinner?” Yes, I say “I love you” on my way out to work every morning, but some days have a little more feeling behind it than others. (Note: I never said it was less true.)
The same is sort of true for our relationship with God.
Honestly, don’t overthink it, and don’t try too hard. Try different ways/methods and see what clicks for you. Some people like spontaneous prayer of their own words; some like silent prayer; some reflect on a reading; some do a rosary or Liturgy of the Hours or similar. You’ll get it. The important thing is simply in the trying.
My advice do not worry keep praying and the feeling will come. St Teresa of Avila said prayer is the greatest of all blessings of this life, the channel through which all the favors of God pass to the soul, the beginning of every virtue.
Be assured that the Lord hears your prayers. Not having emotions while you pray does not mean the prayer is ineffective. It is your will that counts, not your emotions. (feelings).
Just pray in faith that the Lord is listening. He knows better than you what you need. He is there for you always!
Prayer is not a feeling. It is not primarily about you. It is due worship of God.
Many people find prayer enhanced by using tried and true prayers such as the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary. Catholicism has hundreds of written prayers, novenas, and the like. Why not start with some of these?
Exactly, the purpose of the Psalms in the Bible was to have a whole bunch of ready-to-go prayers for Jews at the Temple.
But, if you read the Bible and see how people pray, it’s often spontaneous prayer. Moses was praying for his sister and prayed “Lord, heal her.” That is a prayer of petition, of course.
Pope Benedict in his Jesus of Nazareth books said that we have a right and duty to pray for our needs. Yes, the Lord knows what we need but we pray to humble ourselves before God, as part of living a holy life.
Solomon prayed for wisdom. Abraham prayed to save Sodom and Gomorrah. Pray for all your neighbors and relatives individually.
Remember, you are conversing with God, not reciting a magic spell.
One prayer that every person should pray if they never say another prayer is, Thank You, God.
By "effective prayer, you mean how do you get God to do what you say or want? I think that pushing too much. To the contrary, in the Lord’s prayer we pray that His will be done (not ours).
Also, since Jesus is the core and centre of our faith, He should also be - the core and centre of our prayer.
An excellent example 0f this is praying the Hail Marys while meditating the mysteries of the Rosary
To get to know the Lord better - read ’ The Life of Christ ’ by Ven. Fulton J Sheen
Many non Catholic Christians cultivate ’ A persona relationship with Jesus ’ by having a holistic sense of His presence and His involvement in every aspect of their daily lives.
Spend at least an hour a week or more in Adoration. You will definitely feel the presence of the Lord.
Try praying the Rosary. It is a nice prayer. It is good to pray it often/daily!
I understand what you mean. Sometimes when I pray I feel a strong connection, and other times I feel nothing. As others have said, it is both helpful to recognise your feelings, and not to expect a certain “type” of feeling to come from prayer.
There are many different types of prayer, so perhaps try different styles and see what works for you. There is a series of books I found which describe different styles of prayer in the introductory material, along with other tips for prayer. The series is called “Companions for the Journey”, so if you put that in Amazon you will find several. There is one that is free to download here:
pages 6-11 of the book (5-7 of the pdf) have wonderful suggestions for effective prayer.
Best wishes on your journey!
I am posting the latest Mike Schmitz YouTube video because I think I might help. While it is about the Mass, it is essentially about prayer and living the Faith aside of Mass. I post a more more direct response to your question afterward.
It may help to understand that when you pray it is heard.
We don’t need to shout, we are connected, we are heard.
As I read your post, I see that you are coming from non-Catholic background. If I understand you correctly, I hear you saying that you need a specific prayer intention at the start every prayer session.
That is not how I see prayer. I use the simplistic definition of prayer of lifting up my heart and mind to God. My only interest is to give worship, to place myself in His loving arms.
As a child, I would not think about what I want from my mother or father just to crawl into his or arm arm, to sit on his or her lap in an armchair or rocker.
God loves us more than anything. What He wants more than anything is for us to spend time with Him. If I am scared, I run to Him and tell Him my fears and concerns. If I am angry about something, l let Him know what I am angry about, why I am frustrated and don’t know how to handle the situations or storms that battering my life. This should fit very well within the boundaries of the non-Catholic background from which you come.
God wants intimacy with each one of his children. You may have heard Denzel Washington talk about he was taught to put his shoes way under his bed so that first thing in the morning, he would find himself on his knees. My first grade nun taught me the same thing. My shoes don’t fit under my current bed. That doesn’t change things.
My day begins with prayer. I pray the Liturgy of the Hours. You may just want to pray the Morning Offering. I used to pray the Guardian Angel Prayer with my grandson while waiting for the school bus, another prayer I learned as a child.
My family prayed the rosary every evening.
Start slowly, like any fitness program, until you find a prayer regime that works for you.
As for distractions. Those are “buzzing flies to be swatted away” as the saints have said. They will come. Most of the time they are to be ignored, unless it is a pressing matter that becomes your prayer intention. “Lord, help me with _________, I trust you.”
First thing, remember, feelings are just that, feelings. Feelings lie, feelings deceive, feelings can lead us down wonky paths.
I would suggest the book “Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer” by Fr Dubay.
The book looks very interesting, thank you.
I love Fr. Schmitz.
Many years ago, I read a book about prayer.
I remember the story at the end of the book.
A monk in the monastery had been waiting for many years for a vision. At the moment the vision finally appeared, the bell outside the monastery rang, signalling that it was time to feed the hungry.
Torn between the beatific vision for which he had waited and the call to charity, the monk rose and fed the person in need.
When he returned to the chapel, the vision remained, “If you had not gone, I would have.”