How to Pray Humbly
Without learning humility our prayers are shrouded with pride
Fantastic Value of Prayer
No greater way to know God than through humble prayer. We can learn about God by reading about Him, but we only know Him if we talk to Him through prayer…humble prayer.
Believe it or not, most pray quite poorly. Many prayers actually promote pride, lack of trust and push us away from God. This is what we don’t want to do. There is nothing worse than thinking we are growing towards God, when we are only being deceived.
Most of us don’t realize that we pray most of our prayers full of pride. Yet, praying with true humility is necessary to hear God properly and to obtain the fantastic grace He desires to give us to help us in this life and to grow into a saving faith.
Below is a clear list of what we need to do to pray humbly.
But before we learn how to do that, we need to understand the magnificence of prayer.
The grace given to souls, who pray humbly is fantastic, but the grace which is lost by neglecting prayer is equally as great.
Therefore, to obey God and receive the fullness of grace from prayer, which He desires to give, we want to grow in our prayer life from just one humble prayer into “pray[ing] [humbly] without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and praying dedicated humble prayer seven times daily like King David (cf. Psalm 119:164), so God can correctly guide us to know, love, and serve Him for the salvation of our souls.
During our journey in faith towards the goal of unceasing humble prayer, when we make a commitment to God to begin obeying Him and grow in our prayers (not starting with too much, but one small prayer at a time towards the goal), we need to see that nothing–no distraction of any kind–prevents us from our prayers.
If something must, and I mean must, replace our prayer, be sure we make up the prayer later or that grace will be lost, and we can begin to fall away from God or not grow.
“If it should happen that your morning goes by without the usual meditation [prayer]…try to repair the loss in the afternoon….if you are unable all day to make up for the omission, you must remedy it…together with a stedfast resolution to do better the next day.”
–St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church
Now the only time making up for the prayer later isn’t a necessity is if our time was truly spent with that of charity to another, or we are terribly ill and there is honestly no possibility to surrender a moment in ones day to find time for that prayer later. Outside of those rare occasions, we must see we always fill our promised prayers to God or grave consequences can follow.
Grow at Different Rates
During our journey to grow in our prayer life, not everyone will be required to pray the same. To start, we all have different abilities and will start and advance in our prayer life at different rates.
Also, those who don’t have much freedom with their actions during their day, who are under the control of another or a job, who lets say, can’t even find the time to go to the bathroom when needed but must wait, those of us with such great restraints will have a more challenging–but most likely not impossible–time praying seven times daily like King David and for some it might not even be God’s will.
But regardless of our ability to stop through out our day for dedicated prayer, for the few who truly can’t modify their life to do this–not in the morning, afternoon or evening, everyone is still required to strive for God’s goal of praying unceasingly.
Everyone, no matter what state of life we are in, can eventually do this. No, it isn’t impossible. We simply need to learn how. It will take time to grow in love with prayer and to get there, but we most certainly can.
Furthermore, most of us aren’t working constantly in our day to where we can’t discipline ourselves to pause for prayer. If we can find time to look at our phones, we can find time to pray. For most there is plenty of time wasted,even with thinking about our problems. With learning and practicing discipline, that time can be given to God in dedicated prayer.
Also, if we feel we are just too busy to find time for all of this prayer, then our priorities are’t set on God, but on the world. We will need to change our priorities to make them in line with God’s if we wish to one day obey Him.
Even if we are in the stage of our faith where we only pray one prayer a day, there is a correct way to pray and a wrong one. One that will obtain much grace and one that keeps us praying in vain in which we will obtain little, if any grace.
“[Lord] do not hide your face from me” (Psalm 27:9).
We need to learn the proper way to pray so we can love God well enough to accept all of the wonderful help God wishes to send us.
To pray (communicate with God) correctly–humbly–we must:
- BECOME LIKE A LITTLE CHILD (Matthew 18:2)
The culmination of all we need to do in order to pray humbly is to become like a beautiful humble child, which God approves of. The humble child desires to do all which is listed below so to know, serve and love God perfectly.
- Pray wanting to never offend God again (John 5:14)
Nothing hurts God more than when we seek His mercy saying we are wretched sinners in need of help, but we don’t even want to sincerely stop offending Him. Therefore, when we pray and seek His grace, it must be from a heart that sincerely desires to become a real self-sacrificing saint–from a heart that truly wants to perfectly love Him.
- Remove our worries–have faith–trust in God (Mark 11:24)
How can we really accept anyone’s help if we don’t truly trust in them. What good child doesn’t trust their parent and all that they allow as ultimately leading to their good. All God allows is for our ultimate good. Therefore, if we learn, grow and change from each circumstance to follow Jesus, then He will transform anything, from horrible tragedies to great illnesses, into wonderful means for us to grow in faith and peace so to save our souls.
- Pray wanting to learn (Psalm 119:27)
We can’t learn what God wants us to do, come to know our sins, or gain knowledge and wisdom to understand The Way to Eternal Life, if we think we already know it all. If doesn’t matter how much schooling we have been to or how “holy” we think we are, we must realize we have been deceived in many ways and are greatly needing to learn from the Master of all Holiness.
- Look for our guilt (Proverbs 28:13) When reading/praying The Bible or with anything else, we need to always look for our guilt….how we have or are, in someway, doing the wrong God is trying to teach us to avoid. God has written everything in The Word to teach us how to hate sin and love God…not someone else….but you. But we won’t see our failures to love, if we don’t look.
- Be able to recognize God’s voice (John 10:27-28)
God is always talking to us trying to teach and guide us in literally every moment of our lives; most just can’t hear Him. We need to remove the distractions–mental and physical distractions–in our life that keep us from hearing His voice talking to our hearts.
- Practice silence (Psalm 46:11)
How can we hear God if we choose to fill our lives with constant noise? We have become addicted to the noise of the world and feel happiness and comfort from it. We run to the world instead of God; it has become our idol. From seeking success, to constant electronic devices filling our minds, to our addictions to socializing with family and friends, bounds of things are constantly pulling our attention away from God. Remove the noise (our disordered attachments)–give our life to God–then we will hear God.
- Slow down (John 10:27)
How many of us read The Word or pray the Mass so quickly we can’t hear God talking to us through what we are saying or doing since we aren’t listening. We don’t really mean what we are saying, since we can’t really focus on every word we speak because we are aren’t concentrating and/or speaking to quickly. What are we saying? What are we doing? Do we really know? God intends to use it all to transform our hearts into humble hearts of true love for Him. Are we allowing Him? Therefore, slow down, pay attention and mean what we say.
- Pray knowing our nothingness (Matthew 6:5-6)
The greatest way we push God away is through our pride–by not being willing to see our miserable sinfulness. When we approach God thinking we don’t need Him, that we are holy people who are always doing good for others, our pride not only reject’s God’s grace, but it injures His Sacred Heart of Love too. Nothing good lives within us, anything good is God alone don’t good through us. Not us. We are wretched sinners. The greater pride we have, the greater we reject God, but yet, will think we are “holy.” Only God is holy. We must come to know our true sinfulness if we desire to soften our hearts to Hear God, who saves the sinner.
- Don’t see our self as any more or less than who we really are (Galatians 6:3)
One of the ways we don’t see our sinfulness is because we don’t want to look at ourselves in the light of reality. We want to make ourselves or our situation out to be greater or worse than we or it really is and approach God with prayers full of lies instead of the humble truth.
- Seek to learn from God in all circumstances (Proverbs 1:5)
Since God allows everything, the good and the bad, to befall us so we can turn to Him to lead us to a greater faith and life of peace, every moment is a means for us to learn how to amend our ways to grow in a greater image of God so we can more perfectly follow and imitate Him. Therefore, we must be looking for what God desires to teach us at all moments or we can lose much of His guidance.
- Pray simply–be little (Matthew 6:7)
God can’t teach a haughty heart, who thinks we know much. No matter how much we know, compared to God, we are stupid. When we are growing in faith correctly (with humility), especially if God is increasing our knowledge/wisdom, our awareness of how little we really know will be increasing. Then we can approach God as a simple un-cunning child who really knows nothing and needs Him for everything.
- Pray with few words (Matthew 6:7)
Since God already knows our needs and wants, the words we speak to Him aren’t for His benefit but ours. We can get all wrapped up in our words, thinking the more words we say the more God will hear. But that isn’t true. Simply going to God wanting His love and wanting to love Him, while needing His help is all we need to do. Distracting or sophisticated words in which we don’t pray from the heart, or we pray trying to feel “holy” aren’t necessary nor beneficial for proper prayer. God loves our childlike prayers of simplicity.
- Speak to God like you love Him (1 Peter 3:15)
Talking to God differently than you would to a person of great importance whom you love should never be done. Speaking with God (praying) without expression like we are a lifeless robot is insulting to God. God isn’t a heartless deity but a god with a heart of emotions and love. He wants to be loved, respected and spoken to with great care…not like we are robotic drone who has little interest in what we are saying.
- Pray wanting to pray (Luke 10:27)
When praying let go of our worldly concerns, forget about all we have to do and desire to be with God. Don’t allow prayer to be a burden, but a joy to talk with God. Don’t pray as if we’re in a race to get done, so we can get to what we really want to be doing, but enjoy the time we have to love Our Lord.
- Pray from the heart…mean what we say (Matthew 6:7)
Parroting words or being distracted during our prayer and not really thinking, loving and talking with God merits little, if anything.
- Be attentive to God–no daydreaming or sleeping during prayer (Colossians 4:2)
Many people have been deceived into thinking if we go to church or adoration and sit in the room and fall a sleep we are resting in God and praying. But that isn’t true at all. Praying is talking with God and sleeping is sleeping. We can’t say or hear a word anyone says to us if we are sleeping. We must be attentive to hear His voice.
- Don’t seek attention, respect or praise from others (Psalm 63:1)
When praying (or doing anything), focus our thoughts, words and deeds perfectly on God, wanting to do His will for His glory…never seeking to be seen as holy/good or even thinking we deserve anything or our prayers will be for self-glory.
- Remove selfishness from prayer — seek to love God (Philippians 2:3)
No matter what we ask for, weather it is for ourselves or another, desire that blessing (what ever God allows) to be used to grow in greater trust/faith as the ultimate goal of our prayer…not to have a happier/easier life on earth, but so God may feed us with the food we need from this blessing (cross or removal of cross), so we can grow in greater love of God and more perfectly live for whatever He wills for our lives, for His glory…no prayer should be derived from motives of selfishness.
- Have faith–ask God for what we want/need…then trust with what He allows (Matthew 7:7)
Again, if we believe God allows all for our good, then even if God doesn’t grant our prayer, we must trust in all He allows. We can continue to pray and seek His help, since sometimes God wants us to be persistent before He answers, but we must learn to be patient and wait for God to reveal His plan for our good/salvation through what He allows.
- Have gratitude for everything–especially our crosses (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
How can we be a follower of Christ if we hate the crosses God sends/allows us? If we aren’t growing more loving and patient and into a greater image of Jesus from carrying our crosses, then our prayers are in vain. If this bears true, sadly we are really dead in the faith, since we find Christ through the cross–the cross is what saves. This we must believe.
- Seek God’s will (Colossians 1:9)
When we pray please don’t demand God answers our prayers the way we want. Whenever we go to God ask for what we feel is best, but trust in what He allows. We don’t know what is best, God does. Thy will be done. His will is perfect. Again, trust in Him and learn and change from all He does allow.
- Want God’s forgiveness (Matthew 6:12)
Never pray pridefully presuming we are saved (we can’t read our souls), but always pray wanting God’s forgiveness–long to be in communion with God. Desire to grow in faith to have true contrition for all of our sins–wanting to suffer anything, even death, rather offend Our Beloved Lord again.
- Have a heart that truly forgives others (Mark 11:24)
How can God truly forgive us and fill us with His grace from our prayers if we can’t perfectly forgive others, if we are still holding grudges, and easily irritated/offended by others for their imperfections or wrongs, when we are full of our own wrongs and imperfections?
- Don’t ignore any of God’s Word (Proverbs 28:9)
Please realize every word in the Bible is written not for someone else, but you…a wretched sinner. It is not someone else with the problem but you. You just need to humbly look into yourself to see where it is. Therefore, every Word is meant for us to look into ourselves to see where we are going wrong. We must love God enough to be working/resolved to live every command of God perfectly…daily seek His grace to grow in goodness (virtues/qualities of Christ) removing one sin at a time, as we make resolutions and change our life so to emulate His.
- Have fear of the Lord–fear of sin (Psalm 145:18)
Without true fear of the Lord–fearing sin and its consequences–we haven’t taken the first step towards a saving faith and are still infants in the faith since the evil one has shrouded us in blindness to the horror of sin and what is needed to be saved. We must work to increase our fear of the Lord, so we can perfectly run to God to save us (remove our liking for sin and attachments to the world and bring us to true contrition). Then we won’t cling to any sin and can cling to God accepting saving forgiving mercy.
- Pray alone and in groups of two or more (Matthew 6:6 & Matthew 18:19)
God asks us to pray in various ways: alone, groups, meditation, contemplation, vocal, prepared, spontaneous, etc.
- Pray dedicated prayer seven times daily (Psalm 119:164)
Finding time to stop what we are doing so to implore God’s assistance is a most valuable tool to finding true humble prayer and growing in holiness.
- Pray all of the time (Ephesians 6:18)
No matter what form of prayer we pray, the Word tells us we must grow in our faith to where we pray without ceasing…we will greatly desire to do this from wholeheartedly knowing we can’t do anything truly good without Him guiding our every thought, word or deed. Therefore, we must grow in our understanding of our misery and great need for mercy if truly want to obey God and live the faith and have our heart pulled so strongly to God that we will want to pray unceasingly.
God tells us in His Word that nobody will enter into the Kingdom unless he becomes like a little child. This is where our efforts need to be if we want to pray well and obtain a saving faith. This web site is written to help us do just that. Please see the rest of the articles on this website to learn more.
Not Really Praying at All
Before I talk more in depth about how to pray well (humbly), I need to mention that the devil is so cunning, that there are many of us who think we are praying and even greatly, since we feel God’s love but actually we don’t really pray at all.
This can be shocking since we will have habits of prayer (Mass, rosary, adoration, devotions, etc.), but sadly many still don’t really pray. Some have prayed in our past, but when great pride developed, we lost all real prayer.
Real prayer: is any prayer we pray that is humble enough, in which God hears and we can accept some or all of the grace God sends us now or from what God has planned to send us in the future.
We can see real prayer coming from many new converts… like the prodigal child. But what happens to many of us, is after we change some of our life, gain some knowledge of the faith, and grow in some pious habits and works of charity, we now grow in pride… thinking now we are so “good”, talented and holy, causing us to lose our childlike qualities (knowing our need for Mercy to help us change).
Then we lose our humble prayers and replace them with proud prayers of self-love losing much or all grace. This is the horrible truth for so many religious souls. Bounds of prayers are prayed…we can even feel God’s love, but we reject it all. Tragic!
“That praise wounds My Heart, because [true] love has been banished.”
–Jesus to St. Faustina
As a result, tragically, many will go Mass, “pray” the rosary or other devotions, visit adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, love the faith and think about God throughout our day and yet, we still will not have prayed a single real prayer. We are filled with self-righteousness instead.
This is tragic as many who think we are quite faithful and even saved, haven’t even a single true grace worthy prayer to God.
And as horrible as this is, from this same pride, even when this truth is made known, many simply can’t humble ourselves enough to admit we are doing such a thing and sadly, never change.
For example: People in trouble will pray, “God help me!”
We want God’s help. We have enough faith to believe God can help, but sadly, we aren’t interested in stopping our offences against God, we just want His help.. We don’t care that we are offending Him and simply want to take God’s mercy (help), but not really love Him in return (not work to stop sinning), which comes from our pride.
This proves we greatly lack humility and true love for God. Sadly, many are only interested in God helping us, for our benefit, to make us happy, not to help us stop our offenses against Him, so we can love Him and so He can use us more fully for His will, since our sins prevent God from correctly using us..
Sometimes, to try to win our hearts, so we will want to stop offending Him, God will still answer our prayers that wound Him (are said from proud hearts), hoping we will desire to truly love Him in return (to leave our sinful ways and trust in Him).
But tragically most don’t see God answering our prayers as a calling to change, and we just continue in our life the same. Other times our prayers go unanswered as God desiring to teach us that our sins are hindering our life, but that still doesn’t wake us up to our need to change.
“[Don’t sin/lack humility] that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
This loss/lack of grace from our prayers is reality for many people. The evil one will even have us saying, “we are great sinners” who want to amend and grow in perfection with all of those childlike qualities listed above, but if we honestly looked at our thoughts and actions, we would clearly see our words/desires are merely just lies. We aren’t doing what is necessary to change. And if we can’t get out of this rut…our prayers will simply get us nowhere, and we will die.
We need to go to God, outside of our prayers; we need to seek and seek mercy–in confession, from healing Masses, through prayers of the faithful, or by inspiration from books by the saints, and many other means for a real desire to change. We need to obtain grace to gain a real, true desire to love God.
We need a horror for sin…even if it is just a slight honest desire to change (slight humility), then we can grow. If we have no growth, we are most certainly dead. To learn more please read, “How to Obtain God Grace.”
Thinking or Praying
There is a big difference in-between just thinking and actually praying. Many confuse worrying or just having a nice thought about God with praying. “Oh, those poor people who suffered that great tragedy” some will say; but they do nothing more than “think” about the poor suffering souls. They never actually pray for them.
Many can think about God all day, sing a happy tune about God, but never pray a single prayer. We must remember praying is talking with God (wanting to converse with Him).
When we think about someone else are we talking with them? No; we are thinking about them. Well, it is the same with God. If we just think about God…perhaps, about how great He is or about the help we need from Him, are we praying or just thinking?
Sure God is everywhere and knows all of our thoughts, but if someone was standing behind us, and we weren’t addressing our conversation to him, but he was right there and can hear us talking, are we really talking with him? No.
If we don’t make an effort to intentionally PLACE OURSELVES IN GOD’S PRESENCE and truly desire to converse with Him then we are not praying.
We converse with God (talk to God) through:
- Love – wanting to give God our love and unite with His love,
- Praise – thanking God for everything, especially our crosses,
- Glory – desiring to do all for God’s glory,
- Compassion – seeking God’s mercy for others in their need,
- Humility – seeking self-knowledge of our sinfulness and need for mercy,
- Sorrow – desiring true sorrow, a horror for sin, as we express our great sorrow for offending God,
- Forgiveness – seeking God’s merciful forgiveness for our sins,
- Knowledge – desiring to know God’s will so we won’t fall into sin or do anything outside of God’s perfect plan,
- Strength – seeking for God to be constantly with us and help us so to be strengthen to live His will perfectly (not sin) with every thought, word and/or deed;
- Wisdom – seeking to grow in wisdom of the faith so to come to know how to obtain Heaven,
- Servitude – desiring God’s grace to become a perfect servant,
- Hatred – seeking a hatred for the world and greater understanding of how it keeps us from God,
- Carrying the Cross – seeking God’s assistance with our needs to help carry or remove a cross (if it is God’s will/what is best for our salvation),
- Trust – wanting God’s grace to trust perfectly in what He allows,
- Love of the Cross – seeking God’s grace to grow in our desire to sacrifice and suffer for our sins and the sins of the world–to imitate the love Jesus showed us,
- …and more.
In order to actually pray, we must desire to talk to God or we won’t.
Oh, Lord, only You I want; teach me the ways to holiness.
Praying constantly can seem impossible, but it isn’t. We just don’t understand the concept well enough to know it is most certainly possible and what God calls us to do.. If we apply the above methods of prayers into all our thoughts, words and deeds we will be praying unceasingly.
Of course like with any life goal, we can’t instantly accomplish it. We have to work for it. We can’t be an Olympic winner in any sport, if we don’t start from the beginning and little by little train with discipline and improve, learning as we go towards the goal. It is the same with growing in faith towards a saving faith and also with unceasing prayer.
With this goal, we don’t have to worry if we have the natural talent or ability, because we won’t be doing anything abound our abilities, God will give us anything we need, if we allow Him.
Therefore, we must grow in our prayer life through discipline. If we don’t have much discipline, seek God for it. Start small, with each prayer we pray humbly, grace will be received, making the next growth easier (unless we get to a stumbling block which will have to be over come through penance).
As we begin to pray, we will start with stopping what we are doing making time to have dedicated prayer once a day (even for just 30 seconds is good)–eventually growing to seven times a day (of a substantial time). At the same time, we will also desire to grow so to make everything we do a prayer by seeking to have God consume all our thoughts, words and deeds, so He can do everything through us.
Many mistakenly think we are doing our works for God since they appear as “good,” and we might want them to be for God, but anything we do in life, no matter how “good” we believe it is, unless we do it as a prayer, it isn’t. Truly, our works much of the time aren’t any greater than an athiests.
For example: Could an athiest help out in a soup kitchen feeding the poor? Could they develop a love for others and desire to help? Sure; some athiests do volunteer to work in soup kitchens and love helping others.
Could we teach an athiest to instruct a religion class. Yes, we could give Him the book and tell him to learn what he needs to teach, and he could teach the material.
If we tell an athiest to read a certain prayer…could he? Of course, but he wouldn’t be praying?
Truly, we could teach an athiest to do anything we do; they can learn too. Perhaps, God were to give an athiest the same talent we have and they could use it for the better of man too…some atheist have made great contributions to the world.
But, do athiests do anything for God’s honor and glory…is anything they do a real prayer? No.
Just wanting to do something good or even for the benefit of another doesn’t make it for God’s glory–it doesn’t make it a prayer.
The same thing goes for all of our works too. We can “say” we are doing them for God, because we know that is the correct thing to say, but are we really?
If our works or thoughts are going to be for God’s glory, we must have a constant intention of doing all of them through prayer–talking with God–so He can work through us or our works are no greater than an athiest’s.
Here is one more example: If I type these words on this website about how to find The Way for the salvation of souls, and I just do it from the knowledge and wisdom God gave me, and I don’t do it according to God’s will (working when and how He wills), then I’m driven by self-love not God, making my works in vain….they will not benefit me. God could use them to benefit you, but not me.
Therefore, if we want everything we do to be directed by God and to receive much grace: from our learning, to doing our chores, to participating in the Mass, to talking with others…to literally everything–then we must intentionally and constantly invite Our Lord into our thoughts, words and deeds…so our lives can be moved by God and become a prayer–UNCEASING PRAYER.
The Blessed Mother’s Assistance with Our Prayers
Since, from our great weakness/sinfulness, we have such a hard time doing the above listed things that are necessary to pray humbly and grow in faith, Jesus’ Mother (Our Mother) is here to help.
If we could really understand the fantastic role God has given to the Blessed Mother for the salvation of souls, we would constantly run to her for assistance. But, as with any of our prayer, even if it is to the Blessed Mother, it is void of accepting assistance towards us obtaining a saving faith, if we pray our prayers with proud hearts.
God brought grace (Jesus) into the world through Mary, and He intends to continue to send grace (help) into the world through her. She is here to help us, just like any good mother.
Lets say we are in school, and we are having a hard time with our homework. What does any good mother do? They help their child produce successful work. And Our Mother in Heaven does that for us too.
She will purify any of our prayers or works, if we ask for her help with humility (knowing our real and great need) and present our prayers and works acceptable to Jesus.
Therefore, if we give our prayer requests to the Our Lady seeking God’s mercy through her, as broken as our prayers are, she will purify them and make them acceptable. Then she will submit them to Her son on our behalf so we can receive bountiful grace.
It is much easier to obtain great grace and grow in faith from our prayers and works when we go through God’s mother, since she “purifies them of all the stain of self-love, and of that imperceptible attachment to created things which slips unnoticed into our best actions” as St. Louis de Montfort teaches. Yes, from her tender love, she makes our prayers and works beautiful by removing our visible and hidden sin.
However, many will think we have a true devotion to the Blessed Mother, but in fact we don’t. Our heart’s don’t turn to Mary looking for help to change from our sinful ways but we looking to take advantage of mercy (take mercy) to get out of jail (hell) for free or make our earthly lives better, not from a real desire to love God (stop offending Him.)
“It is very important first of all to know false devotions to our Blessed Lady in order to avoid them” –St. Louis de Montfort
Become a Little Child
“Truly I tell you, unless you CHANGE and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2).
That is a pretty concerning statement. We better figure out what becoming like a little child is really all about since God very clearly told us we will “NEVER” enter into Heaven unless we become one.
Becoming like a child still might be quite confusing to us since children are known to be terribly selfish, quite defiant and horribly stubborn at times, wanting what they want when they want it. But we must work to obtain enough of God’s grace to become like a little child…not like a defiant poorly behaved little child but like a well behaved one.
I showed you much of the child like qualities we need above, but when I show us the beautiful endearing qualities of a little child we will easily see how it is the child that can truly love God and accept His saving forgiving mercy.
To do this, we need to put on our imagination cap. Seriously, we need to imagine what a three or four year old child is like. If you haven’t been around young children in a while then go to the mall or park and look at how a three or four year old responds to their parents and life’s challenges.
Look at their perfect trust in their parents. Analyze them…to obtain Heaven we need to become like them. This is important. Of course don’t pick the three year old that is tired and has behavioral problems to emulate…but the loving one.
In our life’s choices, needs, and reactions to problems, we need to become like a well behaved three year old who approaches his parents for guidance and help, learning with perfect trust.
“Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16).
The qualities a little child has which help us obtain the Kingdom of Heaven:
- trust in their parent to guide them correctly/safely (fear nothing except to disappoint them),
- don’t desire/long for anything of the world for comfort…just their parent,
- don’t feel they know more than their parent,
- want to be with and love their parent above all,
- know they are little and need their parent for everything,
- desire to please their parent,
- accept the discipline of their parent as needed,
- seek to constantly love their parent,
- don’t doubt their parents’ words,
- grateful for all their parent allows,
- stay close and follow their parent everywhere,
- sincerely strive to obey,
- have true sorrow when wrong is done,
- forgive instantly the wrongs of others,
- aren’t tainted with the impurities of the world,
- they are perfect–not able to really chose to sin (they still lack full knowledge of right from wrong.)
What beautiful humble qualities! Lets all strive to acquire these life saving virtues. Because “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
“I will be with you always, if you always remain a little child and fear nothing.”
–Jesus to St. Faustina
Look at the beautiful child. Three year old’s adore their parents, run to them, cuddle them, and want to be with them. They know their parents very well–not from reading a book about them–but from being with them and can easily recognize their voice.
A little child’s heart isn’t attached to all of the pleasures of the world. They would give up any toy–anything in the world–to be with their parents. They know they need them and won’t leave their eye sight. They aren’t full of pride thinking they are self-sufficient or more than who they are. They truly want their parents help and know they are little and need their parents for everything believing. They are more than willing and ready to learn. They don’t think they are better with more knowledge than anyone and love all even the least of us. When hurt by another, they never hold grudges and forgive easily.
When they struggle or fall, they run to their parents for love and help, instead of seeking consolation from friends or the world’s pleasures. When they do good, they seek the praise of their parents…not the approval/praise of others. Three year old’s trust perfectly that their parents know what is good and best for them. They don’t doubt their parent and seek their own way. When they do wrong, they are sorry and apologize with the sweetest sincere love and honestly don’t want to commit that wrong again.
Three year old’s are honest and don’t think of themselves as more or less than who they are. They don’t lie to themselves or their parents and pretend to be who they aren’t. They want to please their parents out of love for them. not to take their love, but to give love. They don’t think what is asked of them to do is a burden. They are happy to stop what they are doing to fulfill their parents’ will. Three year old’s don’t refuse to do what their parent says, doubting or ignoring their call. They believe their parent call, want to do it and do their best to serve them.
Three and four year old’s are pure, wonderful saints–not even able to truly chose to sin. They aren’t full of all of the vanities and lusts of the world. They are perfect. “In respect to evil be like infants [not able to sin]” (1 Corinthians 14:20).
“We ought to pray like little children of four years old, who have no guile [cunning intelligence]. They tell their Mother everything.”
–St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney
Consequences of Poor Prayers
Many of us think we are praying well, but sadly when we pray, most don’t pray like a child. If we wonder why God doesn’t seem to answer our prayers or why we aren’t growing in faith (not becoming like Christ), if we are praying, it is quite likely from the errors in our prayers.
Depending upon our amount of pride, the consequences of our poor prayers can:
- insult God, making our prayers ineffective and even hurtful (Proverbs 21:24)
- cause God to not hear our prayers or I should say, not respond to our prayers (1 Peter 3:12)
- reject some, if not, all of God’s helping and saving grace (1 Corinthians 15:1)
- have us living deceived–thinking our prayers are pleasing to God and that we are receiving grace, when we aren’t ( )
- cause us to suffer–without peace–from lacking some or all of the help God wants to give us ( )
- cause us to not grow in trust in God to save us if we follow Him ( )
- cause us to not amend our sinful ways ( )
- keep us from truly knowing, hearing or being united with God ( )
- keep us from knowing The Way to Heaven ( )
The errors in our prayers must be amended as they can push away God so greatly, we will walk blindly to our eternal doom because of them.
“That praise wounds My Heart…souls full of egoism and self-love, souls full of pride and arrogance, souls full of deceit and hypocrisy.”
–Jesus to St. Faustina
Many will think we have a great relationship with God, when we only know about Him…we don’t actually know Him personally, because without properly praying, we don’t really know Him. Sure we can gain much knowledge about God and the faith from reading about Him, attending retreats, vacations to holy places, or participating in Church educational activities, etc. And that can be good and can excite us into wanting to grow in the faith. However, that is a beginning. Yet, many think that is an end…that now we have a great relationship with God because of them. But that is from the deception of the evil one.
If our efforts to seek knowledge doesn’t lead us into amending our sinful ways and growing in real–humble–prayer then something is wrong. If we don’t delight more in prayer than in reading/studying or doing anything else–then all that knowledge is in vain.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears turned to their prayer” (1 Peter 3:12).
For example: If we read a book about St. Teresa the Little Flower, we can come to know much about her life, which is good. We can develop a passion about the saint and perhaps even visit her shrine and birthplace. All of that can give us a great excitement about her and her holiness. But, do we really know her or just know about her?
Who really knows her…well, her family, those she was in the convent with…and her friends. Yes, they know her. Why? Because they had real experiences with her.
We don’t know someone by just reading about them. We know them by talking and spend time with them.
The same is with God…we can grow wonderfully in knowledge of the faith and come to know about God from studying the marvles of the faith, but if we don’t spend time with God, in prayer–real prayer–not sleeping or day dreaming or just rattling off words or praying with hearts full of pride, but praying with real heartfelt humble prayers, then we can’t truly come to know God or ever really pray (obtain grace from our prayers). We must be humble.
“Clothe yourselves with humility” (1 Peter 5:5).
But to get there we must know, desiring to pray is a gift from God (from grace that we accepted) and praying correctly is a gift too but that gift takes time, for most, to acquire. God can plant a seed within us and give us a desire to know and love Him, but sadly many go about it all wrong, and never even gain enough faith to really pray. To learn how to grow in faith correctly please read, “How to Become a Saint.”
Prayers That Are Opposed to Trust
There are so many prayers that are opposed to trusting God. Actually any prayer we pray can be prayed outside of trust in God. Beware!
We pray incorrectly in many ways as I explained above. A big mistake we make is, we pray telling God what we want, expecting Him to obey us. What beautiful child does that?
We say, “God, please help me get a job so I can feed my family,” which is a fine request, that is, if our heart is correct, but for most, it isn’t. Most pray, expecting God to get us a job, thinking that is faith. But that isn’t.
Most are confused thinking since the Word says, “everyone who asks, receives” (Matthew 7:8) or “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move” (Matthew 17:20). Yet, we are deceived into thinking God will give us what we ask for if we believe. But that isn’t what these verses mean at all. That isn’t true faith.
You see, when we pray, God wants us to ask for help but with a heart of true faith. Of course, we can move mountains but that is when we have a heart of true faith. Our prayers will be great, but we must have a heart of true faith…THE FAITH OF A LITTLE CHILD.
When we pray any prayer like: asking God to please get us a job, that needs to be done with a heart that only wants God’s will–that only wants what God wants (like a good child)–since we should know God knows best.
Being attached to our will is what kills us. From our great sinfulness, we simply can’t see what is truly good or truly bad. Therefore, to accept God’s grace and grow in faith and peace, we must let go of what we desire, ask God for what we “think” is best, but trusting completely in what He allows to happen as truly good…even if it is horrible, full of suffering and we just don’t understand. That is what someone does with a heart of true faith.
Wanting God’s will is the foundation of our entire faith. Our Lord saves us by us following His will for our lives. Each circumstance in life, God is wanting to teach us and guide us to how we need to change and grow in goodness/faith. This we must learn how to do. To learn more please read the article, “What is God’s Will.”
“You need endurance to do the will of God [so Our Savior can move us away from desiring sin and our attachments and into desiring God alone] and receive what he has promised [Eternal Life]” (Hebrews 10:36).
Even if we feel certain that what we desire is God’s will…we are NEVER to expect it or be insistent on it. If God wills us to get a job that is great, if He doesn’t, that is His will and great too. The only thing we know for sure is God wills for us is to obey, come to know the truth (how to obtain Heaven), so to have a life of peace and the salvation of our souls. How God wishes to bring us there is only known to God, but if we want to get there, we need to allow Him to bring us there, by trusting in what He allows in our life as the the next step we need to take to obtain the goal.
“[God] wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4)
When we pray, if we trust that God’s knows The Way, we should ask for what we think is best…what we think is God’s will, but not be insist that we get it. Praying like this, “God, please, IF IT IS YOUR WILL, help me get a job so I can feed my family.”
A heart of faith doesn’t want to move the mountain unless it is God’s will. When we pray with a heart that truly trusts in God, knowing and really believing everything–tragedies and all–God allows is really meant to become something good (if we trust). Then all that is allowed to happen, will be perfectly acceptable to us…because we truly trust in Him knowing it will bring us and others to the wonderful life of great peace and “attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9).
So, if our child is diagnosed with terminal cancer, we don’t despair. If we do, we have just proven we don’t want the cross, lack much faith and don’t have a saving faith of true trust in God. No, we pray and pray to God for strength, and we trust in Him. Then, we pray, “Lord, if it is your will can you please cure my child.” Next, with true faith–really trusting that whatever God allows is good–we move one step at a time, learning, growing, changing in holiness and doing what God wills–perhaps it is towards a healing or perhaps towards our child’s death–knowing it is all good…while living in perfect peace…knowing He is teaching us His blessed ways, trying to bring us to a Saving Faith with every circumstance in our lives. To learn more please read, “What are the Requirements of Salvation.”
It is this heart of faith, like a child, that God’s grace can truly flow through and really move mountains. The rest of us with less faith, sadly only reject God’s grace from wanting our will and not God’s. So, even if God wants what we desire–to use us to move a mountain–much of the time, He can’t, since we rejected His almighty power from our pride.
“His grace to me has not been ineffective [since I had a humble enough heart to accept it]” (1 Corinthians 15:1).
That is why the “prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (James 5:16), they reject much less grace from God (if none at all) and have the incredible power of God right at their finger tips. Sometimes God uses the not so righteous to do great miracles through too…so beware; just because someone seems to have the great power of God at their disposable isn’t a test of their faith…as God tells us “Many will say to me…Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?”…sure someone of true faith will have the power of God’s grace available to them (dispersed in different ways according to His will), but true faith is proven in the desires of the heart, which only God can read.
KnowledgelessOne of the main reasons we can’t hear and accept God’s grace through our prayers is because we are so strong willed. Like I said, our prayers are filled with wanting our desires. We tell God what we want…expecting Him to obey us…like we are in control of God…acting as if we know The Way. Sadly, we want what we want, the way we want it…like a poorly behaved selfish child. How prideful are we?If something goes, what we believe to be as wrong, we run to God in despair. We think what God has allowed to happened is all wrong. Really? Sure what has happened might be something terrible, but God has allowed it. Therefore, if WE TRUST IN HIM, He will make it all good. Not according to our plan, but His. This is how the saints prayed…they said, “if it is your will….(and then made their request to God).” The saints never wanted their will…They never asked God anything with the hopes He would grant their request if it was against His plan of goodness.We need to emulate the saints and pray asking for God’s assistance if something bad does happen, then learn what He wants to teach us in that circumstance (as God constantly desires to teach us The Way more perfectly), change if possible, and trust in Him to make everything all good, when and how HE WILLS.If we want to hear God and receive God’s love and help, we need to open up our ears and not refuse God’s love because we think we know better. Like a little child, we need to let go of wanting to be in control and desire nothing but what God wants because we don’t know The Way…He does.
“I want to teach you spiritual childhood. I want you to be very little, because when you are little, I carry you close to My Heart.”–Jesus to St. FaustinaIt doesn’t matter how much we think we know or how many degrees we have, when we are with God, we know nothing and need to learn and trust in Him for everything. Truly compared to the Creator of the Universe, even if we are the wisest most knowledgeable man on earth, we are knowledgeless.The more little we can make ourselves in our minds, like a little dependent child, the better we will be able to love, hear and accept God’s grace, since it is our pride that pushes God away.If we pray wanting to know God’s will, how can we ever hear it correctly if we are full of blinding pride and think we know the Way? We must let go of all we desire and only desire God and His will, fully understanding we don’t know the Way as we seek Him. This is how we trust in God.
Talk and Listen Like a Child
When we pray in any form of prayer, our minds need to convert into that of a three year old child who loves our Father, and wants to learn from and please Him.
When we kneel before God to talk or listen, we need to imagine ourselves as a little girl or boy. We need to literally transform our minds from the business man or woman, from the head of the house, from the leader of many, or whatever our role in life is, into that of a little girl or boy who knows nothing and need’s God for everything.
Call out to God saying, “Lord (as if we are calling out to our daddy with such love and desire to please Him), please teach me my misery so I can change. Help me to love You and do what You will perfectly.” Talk to God like a little child, no lofty words…but little ones.
If we have to pray out loud in our ministry don’t try to impress others with eloquent speech. Even allow others to ridicule us for our poor prayers if the Lord wills. Rejoice in our nothingness. Then pour out our heart like a little child to the Lord caring about nothing but Him.
“Lord, hold my hand, guide me, teach me, and help me so I can accept your wonderful love and then teach me how to give that beautiful love out to others so I can guide them to You.” Of course if God gives us a tongue that can profess, without trying, beautiful words of love…don’t suppress that either…just be whatever little child God made us, never seeking to impress–just seek to love God.
Then when a simple prayer has been prayed, say nothing…listen, go with God and allow Him speak to the desires of our heart so He can use us for His will.
“A PURE soul is with God, as a child with its mother. It caresses and embraces her, and its mother returns all its endearments”
–St. John Vianney
When we are done praying continue to seek His will alone in the silence of our hearts…never loosing site of Him in any of our actions so to make sure we are doing His will and loving at all times. If we fail to love, run to Him, ask for forgiveness and strength to do better and then do what is necessary to change. Only seek to please Him and be greatly sorrowful when we don’t.
If God has given us responsibilities, leadership, success, knowledge, friends, etc. it is extremely important we do this–become little–so we don’t crave the power, accomplishments, and praise, etc. as we ask God to humble us…so only God and His glory can shine. How easy it is to become attached to the approval of others. Remember, we are just an invisible speck of dust. We don’t want to shine…just God.
We want to transform our hearts from being concerned about countless worldly matters into only being concerned with what our Daddy in Heaven is concerned about–just like how a three year old, who only desires His parents affection and never wants to hurt them.
Cry out to God, “make me nothing” then speak no more…just listen and learn how to do that. Be silent. This is the contemplation we need to learn the Way. Turn off the radio and all of the devices and be with God in SILENCE. Say a few words and listen open our hearts focusing on God’s love. He will guide us.
We Must Be AlertWe must pray all prayers being in the state of great humility knowing our nothingness. But on top of that, if we want to pray well, so God can use our humility to enlighten us, we need to be alert.
Many people make the mistake and go to talk and listen to God (pray) using a method of prayer (words, thoughts, meditation, or contemplation) and think this is supposed to be a time of great relaxation. But, we are confused.
Yes, God has asked us to rest in His peace and prayer time shouldn’t be stressful… but God doesn’t mean for us to go to Him to talk and listen to Him and fall asleep. That should never be our goal or something we find acceptable. It isn’t.
If falling sleep happens and that is the best we can do, that is OK for now. But that can’t be our intention or something we don’t seek to change. To avoid falling a sleep, kneel when we pray. The saints knelt when they prayed, unless they were ill or incapable.
I know when we don’t love to pray so to love God (we just pray to get things from God to make our lives better on earth), then kneeling isn’t what we want to do. It is a burden since our body craves comfort… not to love God. But in time, as our love for God grows (we stop seeking Him to get what ever we want, but we begin to seek Him to help us love Him), we won’t want to pray any other way, unless it isn’t possible or realistic during that moment. In time, we will crave to kneel and even someone suffering with narcolepsy will find it hard to fall a sleep while kneeling.
Nonetheless, God wants us to be attentive. We can’t hear God talking to us if we are daydreaming or sleeping. If I want to talk to you and you have something important to tell me, will I hear you and understand what you are saying if I don’t pay attention (daydream) or fall a sleep… of course not.
Prayer isn’t sleeping with God–that is literally just sleeping–not praying.
Sure God has spoken to some in our sleep, not because we didn’t choose to be focused on God and fell a sleep during prayer, but because God has chosen to speak to some in our sleep, when they were supposed to be sleeping at rest time. And in the times of Christ, people would stay all day and night in the temple and it was fine to rest/sleep, when rest was needed, but for us, we don’t do that so there is really no reason to be sleeping when at church.
Anyway, to pray well our minds need to be away from the world’s distractions, attuned and focused on God… listening to Him… wanting to love Him.
Certainly God doesn’t want us to focus on nothing or just one word (even if it is related to Him), as that is trying to stop our intellect from going to thoughts that God wishes to lead us into to help guide us in our daily lives. But rather, we are to give all of our attention–using our minds to its fullest to God–and allow Him to communicate to us about whatever He wills.
We can pray with one word, but if God desires to lead us into different thoughts that is fine as long as it isn’t daydreaming. If that occurs or sleeping occurs, then wake ourselves up and focus on God again. God will enlighten us to His truths this way.
We will see the proofs of God’s grace going into us. For example, one day we won’t understand a Bible passage and then from God enlightening our minds during correct prayer, we will now understand what that passage means. God will form the our desires of our hearts in this way to make us conform to His.
Therefore, true Christian Prayer is attentiveness with God. Not daydreaming or sleeping. I have never read of a saint praying without giving all of their attention to Our Lord. St. Theresa of Avila, who was blessed with great spiritual closeness with God and was able to clearly describe the journey to get there was, “against some methods of prayer which are not inspired by the gospel and which in practice tend to set Christ aside in preference for a mental void which makes no sense in Christianity” as Pope St. John Paul II declared. We will not find God, if we are trying to make our minds think of nothing… we will find nothing. Silence with God doesn’t mean to stop thinking about Him.
If we want to pray well and we do something while we pray that subjects us to inattentiveness to Christ, we need to change and not continue to do the things that keep us from being alert and focused on God if we want to grow truly close with Our Lord and in wisdom of the Truth.
“[In prayer] taking it upon oneself to stop and suspend thought [to one thought] is what I mean should not be done; nor should we cease to work with the intellect” (St. Teresa of Avila).
Some people like how they pray because they feel relaxed and more at peace after they do it. Sadly, no matter what I or the saints say, from their stubbornness and pride, they have no plan on changing.
We need to be careful that we don’t fall into that trap. Even if we have been praying wrongly our whole life and think it has benefited us, we need to change as that isn’t going to help us obtain Salvation. It is true, God, out of His merciful Heart, might even bless us a little for our broken efforts to try to know Him, but we are greatly missing all He has waiting for us to guide us to Life if we stay in any incorrect prayer. We are supposed to take the grace He is sending us and use it to grow and change.
But please know, centering prayer, which practices a void of thought or “one” thought was never practiced by the saints for a good reason. We don’t have to understand everything to change, but if we want to find God and Eternal Life, we need humbly to stop doing what the lost, in this time of great darkness, are doing and begin to do what the saints of old have done. They know The Way.
Other Prayers That Don’t Promote Humility
Now, as far as charismatic prayer is concerned–which is the inviting of the Holy Spirit into our prayers, no saint has ever been a “charismatic”, but plenty of saints have invited the Holy Spirit into their prayers. There is a difference. Of course asking the Holy Spirit into our prayers is good… Therefore, there is nothing wrong with charismatic prayer, but I don’t recommend we practice seeking to speak in tongs, or to bring on heals or to performs miracles, since it leads us proud souls into even greater pride… This is what we are trying to avoid.
When God uses us for such “super natural things” we are easily deceived into thinking we are righteous or better than another because of them. Most of the time we can’t even see we are suffering from this very problem, even if we were to look. Therefore, since we are in the time of great darkness, lacking great humility, I recommend we avoid anything that leads to such wonders being done through us. They could kill us.
But tragically, even if God Himself were to come again to tell us how to live to obtain a saving faith, many of us from our fantastic pride simply won’t change our belief’s. We want to think our warped wisdom, distorted by our pride, is correct and then we continue in our prayers and behaviors that are killing us. Some, from our great pride, will even leave the faith if someone tells us we can’t do what we want. We are drowning in PRIDE.
Please don’t fall into this devil’s trap. If we humble ourselves and actually do what is in this article and web-site, God will fill us with His grace and we will begin to grow in truly humble prayer.
Only Do What is Truly Good
We need to consider why anyone does anything. Why do Buddhists practice clearing their mind of thought with the goal to be come happy? Why do people of no faith meditate on the earth or practice yoga? Why does anyone else practice any religion, meditation or do anything of relaxation at all? Do we really think all of the other people out side of our faith or style of prayer are experiencing nothing? Of course not.
They most certainly are experiencing relaxation and some sort of pleasure–a positive result–or they wouldn’t do it. Anyone would feel less stressful and more in peace if they quited themselves and were still, trying to leave the stress of the world and calmed down. That is good. But Atheists do that too. That isn’t proof of faith or the lack of faith…that isn’t proof our prayers are good or bad. Those are “normal human responses” we all have when we banish the distractions of the world and seek peace.
However, when we are truly praying well and experiencing the great healing love of Christ in our souls, which is magnificent above and beyond any “natural human response,” there will be continuous amazing spiritual growth and it is incredibly magnificent exactly like St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross have so eloquently described for us in their books.
We will be growing in fantastic hatred for our sins so wonderfully that our entire being will be enveloped into such great love for God, that we will fly towards sanctity.
For many, God blesses us with spiritual interest and/or growth (a spark) and we might even be blessed to experience some of the healing love of God, and are transformed in some way coming to know God a little bit better. But if we don’t kindle that fire and help it grow and grow into a ravaging burning flame of love, we will never experience the prayer life God wants us to have and that of the saints, which is waiting for us too. If after years of praying, we aren’t experiencing what the saints have enjoyed in their prayer life, we are doing something very wrong. Sure not everyone will reach the heights of unity with God as some others do, and we all will start at the beginning and advance at different rates, but our spiritual life, if we are approaching it correctly, should always be growing and changing like the saints have described if we are truly walking towards the path of Life with Christ properly. We won’t stay the same, having the same relationship with God year after year nor will our change be so little over such a long period of time. We will be growing at a good rate from our strong faith as we pursue Christ truly seeking to leave all sin and love the cross. And boy do we need a strong faith to obtain a saving faith and banish our desire for so many sins. We need the strength of an Olympic athlete. We need the strength of God.
Praying well is done by uniting our thoughts to Christ, especially to His passion. That isn’t done by thinking about our worries and how we need God’s help…no, it is done by contemplating on Christ’s love for us–His suffering–seeking His mercy so we can trust in Him and obey His will perfectly. This is how we grow. Sure we can go to God with our worries and problems, and according to God’s will, He will answer and help…and of course when seeking God’s help we should always have the intention of receiving His healing so we can become MORE OBEDIENT and FAITHFUL children. However, that isn’t the way to gain true knowledge and wisdom.
On Loving God
If we would spend just a few moments daily contemplating Christ’s passion, that alone would help us grow leaps and bounds spiritually. It would help give us true knowledge of the horror of sin and its consequences and help us understand the real love Christ has for us so we can truly trust in Him. (Read the article “How to Truly Trust in God” link at bottom of this article to learn more.)
Anyway, there are many ways to pray well. Of course, praying the rosary, contemplating the Word, and meditating the Stations of the Cross, are all fantastic prayers meditating on Christ. But I also recommended, “The Precious Blood of Jesus Devotion” which is also very good at helping us grow in true love of God/true hatred for our sins and it can be a daily devotion. But with all of that said, the important thing we must always remember to be successful in any Christian prayer, so we can really grow in perfect peace, wisdom and closeness with God, is that we need to always be working on knowing and banishing sin together while being alert and focused on Christ and seeking to do His will at all times, so we can grow into the contrition for our sins/love for God that makes us into saints.
“Contemplative prayer seeks him “whom my soul loves”…In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2709)
If we aren’t working hard to banish our sins, our desires to advance in spiritual life will simply be in vain–since nothing inhibits spiritual growth more than not seeking (working) to stop sinning. What kind of humility and love for God does someone really have if we aren’t working to become real saints?
Pray While Admitting Guilt No matter how we pray, we should be admitting our guilt.
For example: As we read St. Alphonsus De Liguori’s wonderful words in his “Way of the Cross” meditation he says: “I love Thee, O my Jesus, with my whole heart; I repent of having offended Thee.” Well, yes our heart might feel like we love Jesus with our whole heart, but since we still sin, we know we don’t. Therefore, when we pray, we don’t want to lie. God doesn’t want our lie. No, say St. Alphonsus’s words (for that is what we desire to one day be) but pray them back to God saying in our hearts, “I desire to love Thee, O my Jesus, with my whole heart; Please help me truly repent of having offended Thee.” This is the humility that pleases God and softens our hard hearts into accepting God’s mercy.
St. John Vianney declares these false declarations of love are nothing but, “insults which we are paying to God.” Yikes! We don’t want to insult God by telling Him how much we love Him, when He knows very well, we still don’t. Most have a long way to go before we will even want to sincerely stop all of our sins, for we can see we still see we don’t sincerely want to amend many sins and still greatly crave some of the pleasures of the World, since we don’t yet burn with love for God alone (click here to learn what the real mortal sins are), then when we pray we must humble ourselves properly before God. God knows we don’t truly love Him…covering our guilt in the form of a prayer is a horrible insult to God. Professing to God we love him with all of our heart, when we are far…very far from that is meaningless to God. So follow St. John Vianney’s advice and don’t lie to God; tell Him the truth and say, “My God, I do not love You, but all I ask is the grace to love You”…My God, I do not feel any sorrow for my sins, but give me all the sorrow which I ought to have for them.”
Truly this works. When reading the Word, do the same thing. Every time the Word shows someone’s righteous behavior, don’t look for how we are righteous too….look for our guilt. We need to understand The Word is written for us SINNERS to find The Way.
“The law is good, provided one uses it in the way law is supposed to be used—that is, with the understanding that it is aimed, not at good men but at the lawless”
The Bible can’t lead us to Christ, if we think we are “good men”, when we are the lawless. So when we pray, ask God to teach us how to sin no more so He can bring us to the true holiness of the saints. Never look for our good, only our misery. We aren’t good. Only God working through us is good. We are nothing. This isn’t low self-esteem…this humility. Never pat our self on our back for what God is doing…all good is God’s alone. Ask God for help. Take what ever faith we have and grow. Learn to pray humbly and grow in great wisdom, holiness and happiness knowing we are nothing and God is everything. Then watch God do wonders through us. Some can grow so very quickly…it all depends on you. Pray!
“I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Grow in Knowledge and Wisdom of the Truth God wants us to be vessels of His love to others and that is done, not by priding ourselves thinking we know what is best, but by humbling ourselves, knowing we know nothing, allowing God and His love to work through us, so we can truly bring the knowledge and wisdom of the Way to others through our love. When we work, we need to let go of thinking we know what is best and the perfect Way from our experience and success, even though we might have much success and great knowledge and wisdom, but rather consider ourselves as knowing nothing without God. If we do recognize God’s gifts He has given to us, we must never be certain we are without error. Anyone can be deceived and nobody has perfect wisdom, therefore we always need to be alert, like a little child, looking to learn especially from the least of God’s children. It is easy to learn from those “above” us, but it takes the truly humble to learn from someone underneath us (as far as society views people). If we think someone under us or seems to have much less knowledge can’t teach us anything, then our pride will blind us to so much God is trying to teach. Because God gives wisdom to the humble. We must be willing to learn from others, even if we are the teachers or should I say, especially if we are the teachers. That light of truth will quickly become veiled with an attitude of great pride that can easily occur when one gains much knowledge. Once we stop listening to others for God speaking to us, once we stop looking for God to talk/teach us, in every experience, thinking we know more than everyone else, we loose the light. Yet, the devil will have us thinking we are privileged, knowledgeable ones, when we are now walking into darkness. We, on our own, know nothing and even if we have much of God’s grace to have wisdom, we still know nothing compared to the magnitude of God’s mysteries. Therefore, when we work from this knowledge God has given us, we must open our minds becoming as little as we can be allowing God to work through us, relying on Him alone, so our pride doesn’t snuff out God’s marvelous work He wishes to do through us. Anything else is the devil using our pride and the knowledge we have received to serve ourselves…from our hidden selfish motives.
Therefore, even if God has us as leaders and teachers of the faith or directors of large corporations or charities, we need to become like little children when we work, pray, listen to the Word, partake in the celebration of the Mass, and even when other talk with us so we can be humble enough to learn what God is trying to teach us at all moments of our life. We can’t be so sure we are right and so judgmental of others thinking they are wrong that we can’t hear God speak to us through even the least of God’s children. Sure some people will say crazy things that are horribly misguided, but if we assume everything others say is wrong and that we surely know more than them or that God can’t teach us something through our experience with them, our pride will most certainly will drown out God who speaks to the little child in the most unexpected ways. Nonetheless, when others are speaking or preaching, no matter how wrong they might have been in the past, if our hearts and minds are that of a little child looking to learn. The misguidance others preach will fall right off of us and the truth will burn into our hearts. We will clearly know right from wrong and embrace the truth instead of being taken away with a lie. From our humility we won’t condemn those who speak a false truth or negate the truth either, but focus on their beauty while praying for them. We know God doesn’t focus on our sinfulness, if He did He would despise us, but God loves us and despite our great wretchedness, patiently bears with us, looking at our potential with great hope of our return as He constantly helps us to get there. This is how we must treat all imperfect souls too.
As you can read, praying humbly and correctly isn’t had at all, it is simply changing our minds and pretending like we are little children again who wants to be with their Father…becoming all vulnerable needing love, willing to learn and needing to be protected and taught by our perfect Daddy in Heaven trusting completely in Him to bring us to the faith we need to be saved.
“Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts. Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, “to his likeness” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)#2713
Growing in Our Life of Prayer There are three steps in spiritual growth but most of us sadly haven’t even ventured onto the first step, that of purgation of sin…removal of sin. Many think, “oh, I hardly sin” so I don’t need to worry about removing sin. But that isn’t what purgation of sin really means. Sure it means the removal of sin, but not just the “big sins,” but removing our entire desire for sin…any sin. It means to bring us to a true and honest resolve to sin no more–to a desire to become the most perfect saint, not in word alone, but in all of our actions as we grow in faith to live our lives for God working hard in every moment to do all for God’s glory by only seeking Him and His will as we accept His grace and strive to literally sin no more so we can hopefully not have any desire for even the slightest sin–have true faith (true contrition)–at least at the end of our life. Sadly, most don’t do this. But God is waiting for us, wanting to show us the Way. He has much help for us from His Word, to His Church and His saints, if we want it.
St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote wonderful spiritual exercises to help us grow in holiness and part of his exercises are directed to help us bring about true contrition by the way of purgation of sin. St. Alphonosus has meditations too which serve the same purpose, and are very good too. But some of us find St. Alphonosus’ work hard to read and many are misinterpreting St. Ignatius’ exercises and are not fully benefiting from them either, if benefiting at all. Fortunately, St. Anthony Mary Claret saw this problem and wrote the book “The Golden Key to Heaven” to help us understand St. Ignatuis spiritual exercises correctly so we can benefit from them. “The Golden Key to Heaven” is wonderful. I highly recommend St. Anthony Mary Claret’s spiritual exercises as they are taken from St. Ignatius work, and they are greatly easier to understand. Now, the problem some have with St. Anthony Mary Claret’s meditations is that they are designed to take an hour to perform each day and especially in today’s life, most of us simply either can’t or don’t have the time to add an additional hour of prayer to all of our days. Therefore, Lifting Our Values, has written a similar book–with the same purpose–on how to correctly pursue obtaining and maintaining perfect contrition, but it is done by adding 5 – 10 mins. a day of meditative prayer and then building upon that.
After we feel we might have gained a disdain for sin so great that we honestly would rather die a 1000 agonizing deaths than commit the slightest sin against God, we can move forward in our spiritual growth to the illuminative step which will help give us knowledge on how to find the Way to Eternal Life and then gain the wisdom necessary to know what to do with our knowledge so we can advance to the final unitive step towards perfect unity with God…Wonderful! Of course as we grow in our contrition (even before we reach the illuminative step), we will begin to gain correct knowledge of the Way but with out the wisdom that comes for great fear of the Lord, we simply won’t know correctly what to do (what step to take first, then next, etc.) or have the strength from God’s grace to live it.
But we absolutely must understand, it doesn’t matter if we have been faithful and praying for our entire life, if we still haven’t walked towards the purgation step in our faith (gaining at least some honest working desire to stop sinning–some fear of the Lord) and then succeeded in climbing it (gain a true disdain for sin), nothing we do will advance us towards a saving faith for we will still lack the wisdom and strength to get there. We must have a firm, honest resolve to sin no more from wonderful fear of the Lord, to even begin to find the Way to Eternal Bliss with Christ.
No saint was a talkitive person. Some of us have been tricked into thinking we are kind people who are doing good when we spend our time talking with others, but unless we are helping a soul grow in faith or we must talk, the saints spent their time in silence talking with GOD.
We can’t love God and man; if we love talking to others, if it is our comfort and sought after past-time, it isn’t possible we can love prayer too. We might think we love prayer too, but our idols always trump God. And that is deadly.
Sure, perhaps we don’t like talking but instead of spending our time praying (talking with God) we have replaced our time that should be spent with God, not with God, but with the TV, internet, senceless books, music, etc.
We must wean ourselves of talking to others or what ever way we fill our minds with noise and practice silence–talking to God…seeking His will and loving Him.
Unceasing prayer is found through silence. Bounds of sins from idol chatter to gossip are committed through the tongue. Some people have spent so much time talking with others, thinking we are being a good friend, when we have become someone’s idol (what they need for happiness). It is terribly sad.
Practice great silence. Oh, others might think we are so rude and unloving but don’t worry, we live to please God and love Him by praying for others and doing His will.