Articles

Tips for Praying


Hi, my name’s Father Mike Schmitz and
this is Ascension Presents. So people will ask me often, they’ll say things like, “Father, I really want to pray, but I just … do you have any tips on how to do it?” and I say, one: that’s fantastic. You should pray. Number two: absolutely, I do. In fact, I’ve got four tips on how to pray. First thing, I want to say this though, is that you probably know this, like, if you want to pray, if you’re a
Christian, if you’re any kind of believer, you realize that prayer is not an option. Prayer is absolutely necessary, that you can’t be, we can’t be the people that we’re called to be, unless we have like a profound prayer life. We can’t be the saints that we’re made to be unless we have a profound prayer life. And what having a profound prayer life means is putting in the time. Virtually nothing other than that.
It means putting in the time. You already know that. Probably what you’re struggling with is where do I find the time? That’s why the number one question,
all one word, the number one question is: When?
When are you gonna pray? Now here’s the thing: I made a video a little while ago came—what was on the thing, on this page, um, that was When’s Your Bedtime, right? And I had people contact me and say, “Well Father, that’s nice and everything, but like, I’m just a night person. I’m a night person.” Like OK, that’s fantastic. Tell me more about that. And one of the things that I saw, kind of like it seemed like, reading between the lines was this: it’s easy to be a night person because all it means is
you just don’t decide. Super easy to be a night person. You just don’t decide. You don’t decide when you’re going to get up and you
don’t decide when you’re going to go to bed. So therefore, night person because it’s just easy to kind of drift until you have to collapse and go to sleep. You have to make a decision. Not just the decision about when you get up but also the decision about when you go to bed because if you’re going to change this one thing in your schedule, in your day, in your calendar, you’ve got to change other things. Same thing is true when it comes to when are you’re gonna pray. People say this: “No, I decided. I put in my calendar.
It said, ‘Pray at this time,’ and I just, you know, I slept through it, my alarm or I forgot about it or other things came up, and I just wasn’t able to get there. That’s because it was just another “when” on your calendar, just another “when” on your schedule, and if prayer is just another “when” on our schedule, then all of a sudden, prayer takes on all of the importance of cleaning your toilet; it is not important. It’s just another thing. Here’s what you need to do: When you pick your “when” for prayer, it has to become and I’m saying has to, it has to become the thing you build your day around. So if you’re going to get up early for prayer, that means you build the way you go to sleep or when you go to sleep around when you’re going to get up to pray. It begins … it means that you build when you go to work off of when you go to prayer. You’re “when” has to be the thing, for prayer, has to be the thing that defines your day, that defines your day: when. Number 2: Where? Where are you gonna pray? I have people who will say this all the time, they’ll say, “Father, I’ve been trying to pray these days. I have a great “when”, like, I’ve chosen my “when”, but I keep falling asleep in prayer, like what am I supposed to do?
What am I supposed to do?” And I’ll ask them the question like, “Well, tell me more about this kind of thing. I don’t know everything.” And they’ll say, “Well, OK, so what happens is I’ll brush my teeth, you know, I’ll wash my face, I’ll get in bed and start praying, and all of a sudden, I’m just out like a light.” And [I’ll] say, “Look, OK, so I’m not like a spiritual master here, but I kinda think I’ve narrowed it down. I think I figured out your problem. You’re “where” might have something to do with you falling asleep in prayer because horizontal lectio divina often ends up being horizontal ‘sleepy-o the rest of the night’ -dina because laying down in prayer makes you fall asleep. So your “where” makes a difference or people will say like, “I just can’t focus. I’m so distracted in my prayer.” Like, “OK, tell me more. Where do you pray?” “Well, you know, I try to pray at the kitchen table at breakfast when my kids are all getting ready for school, and I’m trying to get all things organized.” Like, “OK, I think again, your “where” needs some work. So “when” but also “where.” Where are you going to be able to pray, where you’re free from distractions, but also not so free from distractions that you fall asleep. Now some people will say, “Well, I need to pray in a church.” Listen, I love prayer in a church. I think praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament is the best, it’s the tops, as they would say back in the day. But, if you can’t get to the chapel or the church every single day, then find another “where.” When. Where. Third question: What? Or like how? What are you gonna do when you pray? Now what happens, a lot of people get all excited about prayer and they say, “You know, someone told me I need to pray the Rosary, so I’m gonna pray the Rosary.” “Someone said I should pray Liturgy of the Hours, so I’m going to pray Liturgy of the Hours.” “Someone said I need to read Scripture so I’ll read Scripture.” “Someone says I need to read the lives of the saints, so I’m going to read the lives of the saints.” You pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and have all these prayer cards and you pray the prayer cards. “I also need to intercede for a ton of people and so I need to do all of these things and I’ve only got … given myself 15 minutes to pray.” Listen, OK. If you only have 20 minutes to pray or 15 minutes to pray, that out of all of those things, you get to choose one. One “what.” One thing that you do during your prayer, and just say, “OK, this is it.” Now, here’s what I invite you to do when you choose that one “what,” is give yourself a season. What I mean by that is, commit to a season. “OK, so I, I think I’m really called to pray the Rosary more.” OK, great, wonderful, awesome.
That’s a great prayer, but give yourself a season. Not just like today, but
“OK, for the next four weeks, I’m gonna pray the Rosary.” The reason for that is because this: Because after four days or so, you’ll be like, “You know what? I think I’m gonna move on to something else.” Like, “No, no. Don’t jump from thing to thing. Just commit to four weeks or whatever that season is because you’re giving yourself commitment but
you’re also giving yourself freedom.” After four weeks, you can look back and say, “OK, was that helpful for me? Was it beneficial for me? Was it good for me?” Yes?
You want to keep going? If “no”, you want to stop? Change to something else? You’re free to do that so your “what”: pick a season. Pick a thing, one thing, and then pick a season,
to commit to that. Your fourth question is maybe the most important and it’s, Why?
Why? Why are you’re gonna pray? Because so many people, we pray because, “I want an answer from God so God, give me an answer.” And that, what we do is, if we want an
answer from God, that’s why we’re praying, and he doesn’t give us an immediate and obvious answer, then we say, “Well my prayer just stinks, my prayer is a failure.”
False! Prayer’s not meant to just, just give us answers. It’s not meant to just give us consolation and peace. It’s meant to create a relationship, to build a relationship with the true and living God. And if I can’t find 20 minutes every day to build a relationship with the God who’s pursuing me, then something is wrong.
My priorities are out of whack. When are you going to pray? Where are you going to pray? What are you going to do when you pray? And why are you praying? You know, when you just show up, the whole battle
is just showing up and being, being there the whole time, to show up and be there for those 20 minutes or those 30 minutes or that hour. Whatever it is, to be there and to develop that relationship with God makes
all of the difference in the world. I guarantee you this. And if you even just give God 20 minutes a day for the next, I’ll say, one year, say for the next five years, imagine your life in 20 years, if you’ve given God 20 minutes every single day. In 20 years, what will your life look like? Remarkable! I mean, in the next 40 days, what will your life look like? You’re called to be a pray-er, so we have to answer these questions, you got to make a decision: when, where, what, and why. From all of us here at Ascension Presents,
my name’s Father Mike. God bless. Oh *snap* *clap* Bonus round! Bonus round.
Bonus round! So one of my good buddies, his name is Father Ben. Father Ben always says this, he says, “The hardest day to pray is the day after the day you forget to pray.” I’ll say that again because I said it really fast. “The hardest time to pray is the day after
the day that you forget to pray,” because you know, like “I’m rolling, I’m doing this thing and like, oh man, I miss the fifth day of my prayer and so like, it’s all done, I’m disqualified.” No, you’re not! You’re not disqualified. Just get back on, get back on that horse and, and ride, cowboy. Or, get back on the kneeler and pray, Christian. *click* *pow*

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