Prayer is a Relationship, Not a Wishlist

By Sydney Lorentz

“Our Father who art in heaven…”

“Hail Mary, full of grace…”

“Glory be to the Father…”

If you’re like me, you could rattle off these words at the drop of a hat. We’re taught these prayers from our childhood, and the importance of prayer is continually drilled into us. We’re taught that prayer is a conversation, essential to developing a relationship with God, a person. However, we can often discover a disconnect when trying to draw the parallel between these memorized lines and a real, authentic conversation. Because of this, when many of us who are seeking to know God better try to develop a life of prayer, we’re often left in the dark as to where to begin.

St. Alphonsus Ligouri once said, “Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends.”

Although I am far from being an expert on developing a daily prayer life, here are three of the biggest lessons I have learned when it comes to talking daily with God:

1) If prayer doesn’t come first, it doesn’t come at all.

One of my favorite professors once told me, “The only mistake you can make in prayer is to stop praying.” I’ll be quite honest with you— this is something I have been far from perfect at remembering. Just as in any important relationship, our relationship with Christ requires commitment and investment. If we desire to grow in relationship with someone, we will make it a priority to spend time with them. One married couple I have come to know well has told me that they make it a priority to set aside time every week to spend together. In the same way, we must always set aside designated time to pray each day. Every single person prays better at different times every day. I personally like to start my day in prayer. It really centers and focuses my day. However, you have to decide what time of day works best for you to pray. When you find that time, stick to it and don’t compromise.

2) Prayer looks different for everyone.

One of the most beautiful things about prayer is that there is no “one” way to pray! One part I love about being Catholic is the treasury of devotions and traditions of prayer that the Church has to offer. Personally, one of my favorite ways to pray is through Scripture, especially through the Church’s tradition of lectio divina, which involves praying with the words of the Bible and applying them to one’s life. However, one of the worst traps to fall into is the lie that one person’s prayer life may be better than the prayer life of another. Since every individual’s relationship with God is unique, every person’s prayer life is going to look different. While I know I pray well through Scripture or spiritual reading, another friend of mine prays well by saying the Rosary every day. You just have to find the method of prayer that is best for you in order to help you connect to God.

3) Prayer looks different in every season.

Over this past summer, I served as a summer missionary in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. During this time, we were given thirty minutes of protected prayer time every day in front of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as attending Daily Mass. This was a tremendous blessing that really solidified the value of daily prayer in my own life. Going into the following semester, I was excited to continue this outside of camp. However, I soon discovered that it proved difficult to maintain this same level of commitment with an intense academic load, as well as with the responsibilities of being a college athlete. While you should never do away with your commitment to prayer, prayer often will, and should, look different in every season. For example, many times my prayer this past semester looked like ten minutes of praying with Scripture with my coffee in the morning, or praying a rosary on the way to a cross country meet with my teammates. It’s important to not become frustrated when prayer may look different from another period of your life, but to adjust that commitment to the season you’re in.

In conclusion, prayer is an indispensable part of the Christian life. Jesus wants to be in relationship with you, so I encourage to get to know him through meeting him daily prayer.