Dr. Robin Mitchell’s Assembly on “How Do We Pray”?03 13, 2017
“How Do We Pray?”
An Assembly Reflection, March 9th, 2017
from Headmaster Dr. Robin Mitchell
How do we pray? When the apostles asked Jesus this question, He taught them the Our Father. St. Benedict told his followers “Laborare est orare” – to work is to pray. We have been taught how to pray the Rosary and other formal prayers, but sometimes we have a time when we kneel or sit down to pray and we need a way to come into conversation with God. If we are not careful, we make a beginning and, before we know it, our thoughts are wandering into the important questions like, “What is for lunch?” or “What are we doing this weekend?” It is so easy to spend a prayer time without talking to God much at all.
We need a plan. One plan that works for me was suggested by a wise old priest years ago. He said that I should remember ACTS: Adoration – Contrition – Thanksgiving – Supplication. These four ingredients will make a meaningful prayer time and lead us to the heart of prayer which is A CONVERSATION WITH GOD.
Let’s look at the ingredients one-by-one:
Adoration: I place myself in God’s presence, conscious of His awesome majesty. He is my creator, the Lord of all creation, and I have the privilege of speaking with Him.
Contrition: Just as we begin the Mass with recognition of our unworthiness, so we enter our time of prayer by acknowledging that we are sinful. Sometimes there will be definite sins to be sorry for, but often this will be the time to see the ways we have let God down by not being all that we are called to be. We are not proud of ourselves in certain areas when we could have done more. We name what we want to improve, and we think how we have handled those certain weaknesses to which we are always prone.
Thanksgiving: This is such an easy gateway to conversation with God. Our lives are filled with blessings in our homes, our families, our friendships, and in the events of our lives. It can be good to take stock of all the gifts which we take for granted but which millions of others only dream about: the food that we eat, the education that we receive, the car that we ride in, the comfortable homes in which we live, served by electricity, washed by hot running water. We are so blessed. Thank you, Lord.
Supplication: Our S word is a big one, but its meaning is simple: asking. As we close our prayer, we can spend time asking for things, and we should be quite specific so that we will know when God answers our prayers. But we should ask for things which we know will be pleasing to God. Every senior would like a new sports car, but they would be wiser to ask for good discernment in choosing their college. Ask for the things that will glorify God. Ask for the gifts or healings others need. Ask that you will become a better servant to others.
As you go through the prayer of ACTS, you will be surprised how easy it is to be in conversation with God and often to sense His replies deep inside you. If a particular prayer is blessing you, stay in it. There is no need to finish all four kinds of prayer each time. The main goal will be accomplished if you have spent time purposefully in prayer – if ACTS has led you to CONVERSATION WITH GOD.