On Keys to an Effective Prayer

Introduction: 

  • Know what the meaning of “effective” and “key” mean in the context of prayer.
  • “Effective prayer” means that we are able to openly communicate with God, sincerely. It is not just a mindless method of “saying prayer” for the sake of it. This type of prayer helps us to have more trust in God and develop our relationship with him.
  • “Keys to an effective prayer” refers to some basic facts that we need to know in order to properly receive the actions of God.

Key One: Developing A Positive Image of God and Self: 

  • How we perceive ourselves and perceive others affect the way we act towards one another, which is a similar instance with God.
  • If we see God as someone who is strict, then we probably will be scared of Him and hesitate to talk to Him. However, if we see God as someone as a friend or forgiving person, then we will be open when talking with Him and perhaps feel mo comfortable.
  • Imaging God as Love: 
    • Our relationship with God can be affected by the people that surround us.
    • As a Christian, we must spend time reflecting and praying to God so that He has a chance to reveal His love for us; subsequently, by doing this, we are able to portray God as an image of love– someone who is always there for us no matter what.
  • Imaging Ourselves as Lovable:
    • If we have a poor opinion about ourselves, we then assume that others think the same way, thus affecting the process of how we interact and be around others.
    • In order to change this negative perception of ourselves, we can first listen to the Word of God to transform the way we see ourselves. Do not spend your time reflecting on the negative feedback that other people give you, as these tend to make yourself believe that you are that kind of person, as well. Surround yourself with positive feedback and focus on these in order to have a better perception of yourself, and consequently, improve your relationship with God.
    • Another way is to accept ourselves as good and lovable– be patient about who we are and do not expect ourselves to change overnight.

Key Two: Being Honest with God: 

  • The type of relationship that we have with the Lord is dependent on how open we are to His love. It is in our hands whether or not we want a true relationship with Him or just a superficial one.
  • We have to share our feelings with the Lord to develop a better and more intimate relationship with Him. One of the ways we can do this is, of course, through prayer.
  • Admitting our Feelings
    • This is one of the first steps that we can take in order to develop our relationship with God. If we feel angry, sad, or happy, we have to tell these to God and in a way, it alleviates our feelings (even for a little while) because we know that someone is listening to us. Furthermore, it can also help us find the root cause of our feelings, just like the woman that Father Barry mentions in his book.
    • By sharing our feelings, we are drawn closer to God because our trust in Him grows and we are comforted.
    • Expressing our anger to others is hard, but is a normal thing to happen. If the other party does recognize it and the issue is addressed, then the relationship grows even stronger because this “bump” in the road was overcome.
    • We have to deal with our feelings.
  • Dealing with Our Feelings
    • Feelings are a normal since we are human beings. However, most often, these feelings arise from past experiences that have caused us to feel like this.
    • Despite feeling these things, we have to learn how to deal with them, in order for us not to allow our feeling to control our lives.
    • Steps: name the feeling –> express the feeling –> own the feeling and accept them in our current situation –> talk to Jesus and ask Him to heal the feeling
    • When we deal with our feelings and tell them to the Lord, we are subsequently also being honest with Him. Through this, we are able to discover ourselves more and become more comfortable with God. However, this, obviously, cannot be achieved overnight; it’s a slow process.

Key Three: Integrating Prayer with Daily Life

  • Technically speaking, the Holy Spirit we encounter during prayer and in real life is the same, thus we have to always remember that we are in God’s presence. If we remember this idea, then it is a start to integrating prayer with our daily life, instead of allotting a certain time of the day praying to the Lord.
  • The more we compartmentalize God the more unreal He is because we do not see Him in all things. As opposed to, the more we see God in all things, the more we are able to integrate prayer in our day-to-day activities, thus improving our relationship with the Lord and our prayer life as well.
  • Integration Through Occupational and Spousal Prayer: 
    • More specific ways on integrating prayer with daily life: occupational (while we are at work) and spousal prayers (when we are resting from everything and take time to pray to God).
    • Both of these go hand-in-hand because occupational prayer is the daily dialogue that we have with God and these dialogues we have with God are deepened through spousal prayer– wherein we are able to properly reflect on what has happened so far.
    • There are also several excuses not to talk to God such as being busy, it is only for priests and ordained ministers, I just don’t want to, etc.

Key Four: Listening to God in Prayer: 

  • One of the reasons why we don’t have a good spiritual life is because we do not listen to what God is trying to say. In prayer, we often talk too much and listen too little, thus we are not exactly hearing what god is trying to say to us.
  • Necessary Attitudes for Listening: 
    • We need faith, selflessness, patience, a reflective attitude and courage. When we have these, then we are able to listen to what God has to say.
    • We should also pray for a desire to listen to God’s voice.
    • In essence, according to Father Green, prayer is meaningless when we only attempt to ask God to do what we want. Rather, we should use prayer as a way to talk to God, as a friend, and discover what God wants of us and our attempt to seek the strength to do what He says.
    • If we only use prayer as a means to tell God what we need, we are developing a professional relationship with Him, and not a personal one. As a personal one, entails sharing of feelings and not only asking what one needs.
  • How God speaks to us: 
    • God can speak to us through many means, some of which include: through sacred writing, through the lives of other people, events in daily life, or through His own creation.
  • How to listen and discern the voice of God is a gift and an art. Although, the point is that it takes a while for us to be able to do this, which is why we need to ask the continued guidance of God to help us fully achieve this.

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