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Mar 25, 2024 145 Ivonne J. Hernandez, USA
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How to Pray

We all wrestle with God at one point or another, but when do we really attain peace?

Recently, a struggling friend told me: “I do not even know what to pray for.” She wanted to pray but was growing weary of asking for something that was not coming. I immediately thought of Saint Peter Julian Eymard’s Eucharistic Way of Prayer. He invites us to model our prayer time after the four ends of the Mass: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Atonement, and Petition.

A Better Way

Prayer is more than asking, yet there are times when our needs and worries about our loved ones are so pressing that we do nothing but ask, ask, plead, and then ask some more. We might say: “Jesus, I leave this in your hands,” but 30 seconds later, we grab it right out of His hands to explain why we need it again. We worry, fret, and lose sleep. We don’t stop asking long enough to hear what God might be trying to whisper to our weary hearts. We go around like this for a while, and God lets us. He waits for us to wear ourselves out, to realize that we are not asking Him to help us, but we are trying to tell Him how we think He needs to help us. When we grow tired of wrestling and finally surrender, we learn a better way to pray.

In his letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul instructs us on how we should approach our petitions to God: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (4:6-7)

Combat the Lies

Why do we worry? Why do we get anxious? Because, like Saint Peter, who stopped looking at Jesus and began to sink (Matthew 14:22-33), we too lose sight of the Truth and choose to listen to the lies. At the root of every anxious thought lies a big lie—that God will not take care of me, that whatever problem worries me now is bigger than God, that God will abandon me and forget me…that I don’t have a loving Father after all.

How do we combat these lies? With the TRUTH.
“We must simplify the work of our mind by a simple and calm view of God’s truths,” reminds St. Peter Julian Eymard.

What is the truth? I like Saint Mother Teresa’s answer: “Humility is truth.” The Catechism tells us that “humility is the foundation of prayer.” Prayer is raising our hearts and minds to God. It is a conversation, a relationship. I can’t be in a relationship with someone I do not know. When we begin our prayer with humility, we acknowledge the truth of Who God is and of who we are. We recognize that, on our own, we are nothing but sin and misery but that God has made us his children and that in Him, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13).

It is that humility, that truth, that brings us to first adoration, then thanksgiving, then repentance, and finally to petition. It is the natural progression of one who is completely dependent on God. So when we don’t know what to say to God, let us bless Him and praise His name. Let us think of all the blessings and thank Him for all He has done for us. This will help us trust that this same God, who has always been with us, is still here today and is always for us through good times and difficult times.

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Ivonne J. Hernandez

Ivonne J. Hernandez is a lay Associate of the Blessed Sacrament, president of Elisheba House, and author of The Rosary: Eucharistic Meditations. She writes regularly for many Catholic blogs and lives in Florida with her husband and two of her young adult sons.

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