Ah, prayer. Conversation with God, simple as it sounds, can bring with it some major struggles. There seems to be no end to advise out there on how to handle distractions, dry spells, and lack of time for prayer.
There are plenty of us who are working to improve our prayer life during the New Year. That’s why we put together the best advice from modern Catholic authors and classic Catholic saints on how to improve your conversation with God. Here are fifteen of our favorite tips that will calm the anxious feeling that starts when you make that first sign of the cross.
1. Think of Prayer as mental exercise in loving God
In his famed book Time for God, Father Jacques Philippe says: “Mental prayer is basically no more than an exercise in loving God. But there is no true love without fidelity. How could we claim to love God if we failed to keep the appointments we make with him for mental prayer?”
Instead of thinking of prayer, think of it as an opportunity to have a conversation with someone you love. If we pray out of love for God instead of thinking of prayer as a burdensome duty, it won’t seem as much of a burden to set an appointment in our calendar to pray.
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2. Dedicate your prayers to Mary
There is no better of example of prayer than the Blessed Virgin Mary. She pondered God’s actions in her heart throughout the Gospels.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the founder of the Militia Immaculata wrote: “”Prayer is powerful beyond limits when we turn to the Immaculata who is queen even of God’s heart.”
3. Try praying with others
The Bible tells us that when two or three are gathered in God’s name, there He is in the midst of them. The same can be said with prayer. Although private prayer is essential to the Christian life, try tapping into the beauty of public prayer as well. Maybe this year you can join a Bible study or prayer group.
St. John Vianney wrote: “Private prayer is like straw scattered here and there: If you set it on fire it makes a lot of little flames. But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.”