You’d be hard-pressed to find a Christian who can’t recall a time when they found it difficult to pray. Perhaps that’s you, now. You’re desperate to meet with the Lord but are finding it difficult to focus, or simply don’t know how to set aside the time.
While canonising seven new saints on Sunday, Pope Francis said: “The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them.
“They struggle to the very end, with all their strength, and they triumph, but not by their own efforts: the Lord triumphs in them and with them. The seven witnesses who were canonized today also fought the good fight of faith and love by their prayers.”
He acknowledged the difficulty prayer can pose. “Jesus tells us in the Gospel: ‘Pray always, without ever losing heart,'” he said.
“This is the Christian way of life: remaining steadfast in prayer, in order to remain steadfast in faith and testimony.”
He continued: “This is the mystery of prayer: to keep crying out, not to lose heart, and if we should grow tired, asking help to keep our hands raised. This is the prayer that Jesus has revealed to us and given us in the Holy Spirit. To pray is not to take refuge in an ideal world, nor to escape into a false, selfish sense of calm. On the contrary, to pray is to struggle, but also to let the Holy Spirit pray within us. For the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray. He guides us in prayer and he enables us to pray as sons and daughters.”
If you’re tired of trying to persevere with prayer, here are a few simple tips that might help.
Take distractions away
It’s an obvious one, but it’s almost impossible to focus on God when your phone’s buzzing and social media notifications are popping up every few minutes. Turn off your phone. Log out of Facebook. Find a quiet spot if you can, and close the door. Stilling yourself before God is much easier when you’re not trying to guess who’s text you.
Pope Francis alluded to this in his homily yesterday; part of the challenge of prayer is persevering in it, even when it’s hard. Research lead by a team at University College London found a few years ago that it takes 66 days to form a habit – far longer than the widely-held figure of 21 days. That’s a long time – more than two months – but if you’re disciplined in taking the time to regularly meet with God, it will become easier.
Try new things
Sitting down in a quiet space and meditating on the word of God isn’t how everybody will connect best with Him. If that’s not for you, why not try something different? Go for a walk and just talk to God about whatever comes to mind, or try one of these alternative ways to pray. See what works for you.
Think beyond yourself
Prayer can become stale when all we do is offer God a long list of things we’d like changed in our own life. We risk prayer time becoming more like a wish-list than a time of petitioning our Maker on behalf of others. ‘The Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other’ is a good principle for prayer if you don’t know where to begin – there are so many places in the world that need our prayers, inform yourself and let your heart be broken for the lost and the poor.
Source: Carey Lodge for Christian Today.