How to pray?
Here you’ll see how to start praying with Mental Prayer Support Podcast.
Commitment is key in mental prayer, so before start praying you need to decide when, where and the duration of your prayer.
Deciding time, place and duration is important to keep consistency in this practice. More than that, always keep in mind that this is a meeting with God. If you have scheduled, you must be there.
Time and duration
Choose one moment in your day that better suits your lifestyle. Then you’ll do your best to pray every day for the next month, during at least 15-20 minutes. This will be the minimum duration of your daily prayer.
Prayers in Mental Prayer Support podcast are 15 minutes long guided prayers. But you can extend whenever you realize you have your own ideas for meditation or prayer.
Extend if you want, but never shorten it.
After defining the duration, persevere in this commitment.
After 1 month, if you realize that 20 minutes was too much, then you can reduce it for next month. Keep in mind that 30 to 60 minutes is the duration most recommended when you get more practice.
After a while you’ll probably be able to define your regular prayer schedule.
Prioritize the time of prayer. Rationally you can ask yourself: What could be more important than God? If one day it is not possible to respect the time scheduled, you can adapt. Changing the time is better than skip the prayer. If you don’t have a regular schedule, plan your prayer according to your lifestyle.
If you can’t pray every day, it is not a problem, however, keep in mind that best is to pray every day at the same hour.
The most peaceful, silent and convenient place you can find. Maybe in a church, when it’s calm. Alone in your room, or in your prayer corner.
You can have a cross, images, statues or icons that will help you raise your thoughts to God, when you look at it.
But you don’t really need anything to start, other than your bible or some spiritual reading.
If you realize you can’t control the place you’ve chosen and that it can get very noisy, or it has a lot of people passing by and it distracts you, improve it. Chose another. However, don’t change the minimum length that you have defined for the first month.
In the method of mental prayer in Mental Prayer Support podcast two main elements that will always be present: meditation and prayer.
Pondering some spiritual texts or trying to mentally visualize them.
Generally grouped into affections and resolutions. They are fruits or effects of the meditation in us. This is our answer to God’s love and where we also show our love to God.
- Affection: acts of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, humility, hope. All this and whatever will be in your heart, most important is to express your love to God.
- Resolution: practical acts to be done, in order to grow in virtue, or spiritually, like try to be more patient with someone, be faithful to your daily prayer, or stop bad habits and sins.
Five steps to start mental prayer
These are the steps to start praying with Mental Prayer Support podcast:
1 – Pick a theme, or a series of prayers.
Go to prayers where you can choose a theme to start.
You can choose a subject related to the liturgical time you are in, or a theme that you feel called to meditate upon.
2- Sit comfortably in the place you’ve chosen to pray
When the time of your prayer comes, go to the place you’ve defined. Try to sit comfortably but not too comfortable that makes you sleep. You can also kneel, as long as it doesn’t distract you.
3- Start listening and participating of the prayer
So, it can’t be in your car, when you’re driving, or when you need to check if the metro arrived in your station. In theses cases do another kind of prayer. When you do mental prayer, you are entirely there.
4- Pause the audio whenever you feel the subject tells you something.
As if it nourishes your soul. You must also pause to explore your own meditation and prayer. Especially prayer.
Meditation (considerations) is the work of the intellect in order to help you to drive your will to God and show him love, through your prayer, especially affections and resolutions.
5- Refocus when you get distracted or resume the audio
Whenever you realize that your mind is not there anymore, just go back to the thought or the image again.
If you still feel distracted, go back to the text, or to audio.
In the end of the prayer, if this love inspires you, you can make a resolution to do the same, like volunteering in your church or somewhere else. Another resolution could be to try to improve your love to those who live close to you, like participating in housework, or stop doing things people dislike and you are aware of.
When listening to the prayers, you’ll see some periods of silence: Do not to skip it, these will be the moments where you will make your consideration, affection, resolution, or just be with God.
We will help you with some ideas, but the most important considerations, affections and resolutions will come from yourself. The Holy Spirit will help you. At that point, you just pause and enjoy your moment with God.
If you feel your heart lifted up, just be there with God, without doing anything. You can also pause the audio at this moment to stay longer in silence.
St. Teresa of Avila explained that mental prayer is not an act of thinking much, but of loving much.
When pausing, if you finish the time of the prayer by yourself, you can resume or restart the audio prayer in another day.
- If you have a spiritual guide, like a priest or a religious friend that practice mental prayer, it will help you a lot, definitely make use of it! You can always ask for an experienced person to help you.
- After the first series of prayer, try without listening. At the same place and time and with the same duration you’ve been praying, Take a short passage you’ve chosen previously, it can be for example the gospel of the daily mass reading, and meditate upon it the same way you did following the audio.
- Dealing with spiritual consolation and desolation
Saint Ignatius presents us two extremes in the spiritual life.
When the soul is fired up, maybe feeling sensible love for God, full of energy, feeling motivated to pray and to follow spiritual commitments.
In contrast, spiritual desolation is an experience of the soul in heavy darkness, assaulted by doubts, temptations, self-preoccupations, laziness. We may feel lonely and even abandoned by God.
Since the first one comes from God and the second from the enemy, we must always accept spiritual consolation and reject spiritual desolation.
Because, as consolation is contrary to desolation, in the same way the thoughts which come from consolation are contrary to the thoughts which come from desolation.
Being aware of these interior movements is very important, so you can act accordingly:
Accepting spiritual consolation and rejecting spiritual desolation.
Please! Listen to this series from Father Timothy Gallagher about discernment of spirits. Understand spiritual consolation and desolation is fundamental to grow in spiritual life.
You must keep in mind that mental prayer is not about feeling things, it will be a moment you are setting apart to be with God. You may or may not feel special things. If you don’t feel something special, it doesn’t matter, if you persist in prayer that day, however dry it may be, and continue every day, you show your love to God. This is the real love: the love of the will.
- Dealing with distraction and aridity
You already know distraction attacks the intellect when you meditate, and as we said, we must fight it, just go back to the subject of the meditation or to the reading / audio.
Sometimes distractions will appear in the form of apparently good things. If it’s your prayer time, be sure that it is not the right moment to think or do this apparently good thing. Don’t let temptations and distractions deprive you from your time with God.
Involuntary distractions are normal and will occur. It happens because of many reasons, but as long as you fight it, the prayer will never be a loss of time. Even if the whole time of prayer is a battle against distractions.
Aridity that assails the will, where we are unable to make affections or we just don’t feel like praying at all. Again, bring to mind that mental prayer is not about feelings, then you fight it doing exactly what you’ve planned to your prayer.
Here are some directions from Padre Pio for mental prayer:
“If you do not succeed in meditating well, do not give up doing your duty. If the distractions are numerous, do not be discouraged; do the meditation of patience, and you will still profit. Decide upon the length of your meditation, and do not leave your place before finishing, even if you have to be crucified. Why do you worry so much because you do not know how to meditate as you would like? Meditation is a means to attaining God, but it is not a goal in itself. Meditation aims at the love of God and neighbour. Love God with all your soul without reserve, and love your neighbour as yourself, and you will have accomplished half of your meditation.”
Remember, you are doing whatever you can, but it is a gift from God. We just have to persevere.
In the end of your prayer time if you realize that it was a combat against those two enemies, in faith, be sure you did a great job, and that God treasures your effort to be with him.
There you have it, now you should be able to start praying with mental prayer support.
Even if you don’t feel consolations and pleasure in the time of prayer, although it’s possible, you will see the fruits of the prayer and it will be very, very clear. It will help you fighting personal sin and you will grow in your relationship with God.
- Plan, and do what you’ve planned at the right time.
- Be entirely present.
- The most important thing is to love God and be there with him.