The best way for faithful to speak to God is to open their hearts to him, sharing their desires and seeking graces, Archbishop Samuel Aquila said.
“It’s entering into that union and a conversation like we have with one another,” the archbishop said about prayer. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that prayer is really the lifting up of our hearts to God. And it’s, in the words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a gaze at God or a movement within our hearts to speak heart-to-heart with the Lord.”
Archbishop Aquila spoke about prayer in a series of podcasts released this month shared by a new local ministry called Ask a Bishop. Anand Bheemarasetti and his wife, Lindsey, of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, launched what they describe as a “digital school of life and faith,” designed to share bishops’ answers to faith queries through multimedia.
In one podcast the archbishop said faithful can learn about prayer from the Gospels.
“We are told in the Gospel that Jesus would often go to a quiet place to pray and to truly be in communion with the Father,” the archbishop said in the podcast titled “Should You Pray to Jesus or God the Father?”
He continued that Christ shows that the will of God was his deepest desire in prayer.
“So, too, are we called in prayer to conform our will to the Father,” he said. “And in teaching us to pray, Jesus reminded us to go into the quiet of our rooms and also taught us the great prayer of Our Father. That immediately teaches us that as his disciples, as we pray, our prayer is to be directed to the Father.”
And there’s more than one way to grow in prayer, he said, such as having gratitude for the beauty of creation.
“I remember when I was in college often times I’d be at the top of a mountain and it’d be a crisp clear day and I’d be getting ready to ski down the mountain,” Archbishop Aquila shared. “And I was just captured by the beauty of creation itself, and I would lift up my heart in gratitude to God for the gift of creation. … Beauty often times puts us in touch with the Lord.”
Reading Scripture and prayerfully considering how God is speaking to a person’s life and heart is key to growing in prayer.
“It’s important prior to that time to pray to the Holy Spirit and really ask the Holy Spirit, ‘Open my heart, help me to listen, grant me a heart that is receptive to your word,” the archbishop explained. “And by doing that and then prayerfully reading the Scripture, we’re more receptive and open to really hear the Lord speaking to us.”
Faithful can also learn to pray by reading the dialogue between Christ and characters in the Gospel.
“Often times we can learn to pray by looking at some of the dialogues of Jesus with others in Gospel. For example, with the apostles, with Peter, with the Samaritan woman,” he said. “It’s a very lengthy dialogue and a very beautiful dialogue and one that gradually leads her to faith. And prayer should always be leading us into a deeper faith, trust and confidence in God.”
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