Dive Right in. When I was a little kid, I hated swimming lessons. And the biggest reason was the pool was cold, and I did not like it. But, it turned out to be a good thing I could swim, even if I am not sure that happened because of swimming lessons. But we are we are ready to roll. So let’s get started.
We are starting Day 1 of our Preparing for Lent Novena. We are hoping that these days of prayer will help you to learn just how Jesus longs to have a deeper and more powerful relationship with you.
Each day there will be a reflection, followed by some bible verses that may help, some questions to consider and reflect on, as well as a closing section where we will be praying. At the end there are also others resources that you might find helpful for you on this website.
Ask God to come into your heart. Pray for a deeper relationship with Him. By seeking to pray and prepare, here’s hoping that you can feel the power of God’s love in your heart. God does amazing things for us, for God loves us more than we could ever know.
Dive Right In
Oh my. Another Lent is upon us. If you are like me, sometimes you can find yourself doing the same old things every Lent. It might be giving up chocolate or candy. But I know that really “What are you giving up for Lent?” is the wrong question. For Lent (and our penance) should really all about God.
But are not I the one doing the penance? How can it be about God? When deciding what we will do for Lent, the question is really about what we need to do to become closer to God. Is there a way my relationship with God has become stale? Have I become lazy in my prayer life? What is it I really need to do to grow in faith?
But I Really Do Not Know How to Pray
But you might be saying I do not know how to pray? Lent has a simple formula: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. This is the three-fold goal of Lent, to help us to grow more and more into a deeper awareness of God. I think these three are chosen because they remind me that to grow into the spiritual life I must turn away from myself. Prayer means turning towards God. Fasting helps me to turn away from those things that can make me selfish. Almsgiving causes me to turn towards others and their needs.
And on this first day of the Preparing for Lent Novena 2022 we focus on prayer. I have a very close friend who is a priest who I admire greatly because regardless of what is happening he always turns to prayer. Every day begins with prayer, and he concludes every day with prayer too. Almost always a significant part of this prayer is in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
I asked him once to help me to understand prayer a little better for I was feeling a little lost at the time in my prayer life. His answer was hardly consoling. He said to me, “I really do not know how to pray. I’m still learning.” I kind of wanted to scream. “What! I admire you for your prayer life and for your holiness. And you do not know what prayer is? What does that mean for a schmuck like me?”
I mean I pray. I make time for it. But I am not sure really what it is. There are too many times I think I pray because everyone tells you how important prayer is. And it can seem sometimes like an obligation as a result.
Now, of course, there is room for disciplining myself in prayer, for it is important for anyone to recognize the need to practice prayer consistently if they are to grow in faith. Consider this from Brother Lawrence, who wrote a very nice little short book on prayer called Practice of the Presence of God. He says this. “It is a great delusion to think our times of prayer ought to differ from other times. We are as strictly obliged to cleave to God by action in the time of action as by prayer in the season of prayer.”
I take this to mean that the goal is on some level, to make prayer, time for prayer and the act of praying come as naturally to us as anything else we strive to do in our life. In every way we need to recognize God and be close to Him. And when we think of those things we do that we really cherish, there is a correlation, if not causation between the amount of time we give to prayer and how it is that we remain consistent and faithful in it.
That’s ok; It is About a Relationship with God
Prayer is really about communion with God. It is in knowing that in all things, in every time and place we are never alone. God is always with us. And however we pray, it is in knowing that we are never alone that all prayer has its foundation.
If we are asking God for something, it is not that we are informing God of something. God already knows. We are seeking to trust more in God and become more dependent on God. In doing so we come more and more in communion with God, and as such, more and more in awareness of just how much we are loved.
Even if prayer is a very familiar part of your life, and even if you have a routine for prayer, start by asking God to teach you to pray. Saint John the Baptist had disciples and taught them to pray. And Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Do the same. Start each day, or each time of prayer, simply asking Jesus to teach you to pray.
After all, what more can Jesus want from you than a relationship with you. He wants you to know how to pray, for in teaching you how to pray, he brings you more and more into his presence. And the communion with God is the goal not only of prayer, but indeed the entire spiritual life.
Bible Verses to Ponder
Reflection Questions to Ponder
What comes to mind when you think about what it means to pray?
If you were to think about your relationship with Jesus, if he asked you to pray, what do you think he would mean by this?
What is your relationship with silence? Does it make you uncomfortable, or is it easy being in silence?
In what ways do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?
How do you think focusing on how to pray will help you to grow in your faith?
Heavenly Father, We praise your name because you are so loving and so kind and so good to us. Teach us to pray. Teach us to want to pray, to desire to pray, and to seek to become closer to you. Help us to see your goodness, and help us to feel your strength and support, O Lord. We know that not all are experiencing good times. Help them O Lord to know that you love them, that they can love you, and that they are always with you, you are always in their presence.
And if in our prayer we feel alone, or afraid, help us to know how much you love us. We praise you O Lord because of your wisdom, your love for us, your care and concern. Thank you so much for the ways you bless us in our lives. And if we are not feeling those blessings, help us to see more clearly what we have and how to be thankful. Most of all, Lord, teach us to pray so that we can know that we are closer to you.
And so we make this prayer in the name of your son, Jesus, for He is Your Son, You sent Him to save us, you showed us your overwhelming love for each of us by having Him die on the cross for us. In His name we pray. Amen.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Other Helps to Grow in the Spiritual Life
Participate in the Friar Book Club, where you can read along with the Confessions of Saint Augustine, and soon the Meditations for Time of Retreat and the Companion to the Summa by Walter Farrell, OP.
Search our website for devotional prayers. You can ask for people and the friar to pray for you, and you can pray for others. There are three ways you can pray the rosary. You can pray the traditional rosary (the one you may have learned as a child). But you can also pray the rosary in a tradition that comes from the Dominicans or you can pray the rosary in a tradition that comes from the Lasallians. All of the links to the rosary come with audio recordings so that you can pray the rosary in the car, on your way to work, or anytime you are otherwise occupied.
There will be other resources which you can find as well. The high school students I teach and work with will offer a reflection each day. Of course all those who ask me to pray should know that I do each day, twice a day.
And sometimes it is helpful to know what is going on in the Church, and so from time to time I post news stories from the Church too. I pray that all of you will find a deep and fulfilling personal relationship with Jesus. Nothing is more important or able to change your life than that. And I pray that this relationship with Jesus changes your life in every way. It can.
When you see the world as God sees the world, it does not mean there are not hard times or that there is not still suffering and sin, but it does mean that none of these things do you need to experience on your own. Be sure to come back tomorrow.