I’m a Roman Catholic. It’s Sunday, and the inspiration for my inaugural post comes from today’s Mass (16th Sunday in Ordinary Time).
Today’s second reading, from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans, tells us that we really don’t know how to pray.
But the Holy Spirit comes to our rescue. The Spirit intercedes for us with “inexpressible groanings,” presumably according to our intentions.
At Mass today (Church of St. Patrick, Wadsworth, Illinois), Father Marty Zielinski gave us three tips for praying as we ought. He took cues from the parables Jesus taught in today’s Gospel passage (Matthew 13:24-43).
- Focus (eliminate distractions… separate wheat from weeds).
- Start small (like the mustard seed) and brief minutes of prayer will gradually blossom into large blocks of time.
- And I don’t remember exactly how he related the last parable about the woman mixing yeast with three measures of flour… probably cuz I started thinking about my own philosophy on prayer… I do remember Fr. Marty talking about our various prayer lists and how we all participate in intercessory prayer… it was about praying for others, including others in our prayers, including the intentions of others in our groanings.
As Catholics, we have a wealth of prayers at our disposal. Standard prayers have helped me talk to God when I really don’t have a clue how to clearly articulate what I want to say…
Also, as Catholics, we have a unique relationship with Jesus’ mother, Mary. We are encouraged to pray the Rosary daily. We ask Mary, through her unique relationship to the Almighty, to intercede for us… to lift our groanings to the Father.
Here’s a thought on praying a mini-Rosary throughout the day. It accomplishes the first two suggestions from Fr. Marty. Remember the rule of thumb about washing your hands? Sing “Happy Birthday To You” twice, and that’s how long you should wash your hands.
Praying one Hail Mary is roughly equivalent to one “Happy Birthday.” That means every time you wash your hands, you can pray two Hail Marys. That’s starting small! And you automatically focus. Pick one intention. Then, turn it over to our Blessed Mother.
Same rule applies to brushing your teeth. How many Hail Marys can you pray in the two minutes you brush your teeth? How about a trip to the water fountain or the water cooler? A silent Hail Mary then?
Hey, pick your prayer. Pick your intention. Make that time yours.
Yours and the Lord’s.
And what about #3, that prayer list? How many times have you been asked to pray for someone? Or perhaps told someone that you would pray for them or for their special intention?
Start a draft e-mail to yourself. Or a journal. Again, make it your own! Whatever you choose, make a list so that you don’t forget those special intentions. And when you pray, take a look at the list. Or if the list isn’t handy, offer up “the list” to God and ask him to remember those intentions. And refresh your memory every once in a while. Go over the list and update it. Don’t be afraid to ask the Lord to hear the prayers of everyone on your list.
How do you pray? Perhaps you have a suggestion that may help someone else who’s not quite sure how to pray as they ought.