Often when we look at our own life of prayer, it is too easy to view it as another item to “check” off on our to-do list. It remains a task like any other task we have on our schedule and we breeze through it without giving it a second thought.
Yet prayer is so much more than a task we “must” do. Prayer is about a relationship. As Saint Therese so eloquently put it,
For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.
This quote was deliberately put at the very start of the Catechism’s section on “What is Prayer” and should always be kept in mind. Prayer is always an action of the heart, as we cry out to God and lay before him all of our needs and worries.
We are reminded of this reality in the fifth step of the “Way of the Heart,” which is entitled, “He calls us his friends.” As Jesus explained to his apostles before his crucifixion.
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
This is why we need to make room in our schedule for a personal heart to heart conversation with God. It is the simplest and hardest way to pray. It consists of talking to God as if you were talking to the person you trust the most. This means not just talking about surface feelings, thoughts or desires, but more importantly talking about what is really bothering you in your heart. There might be a deep wound that is still there from your childhood or a real doubt that God exists because of a profound evil that has happened in your life. Above all else, take everything to God, especially the deepest desires and wounds of your heart.
There is no formula in this method of prayer. It is a simple conversation with God, where we must speak, but also listen (and often the answer does not come immediately or in audible words).
God desires to be near to us and our needs and wants to hear what is on our hearts. Let us take everything to him, even the most mundane of details, and trust that he is there listening in compassion.
God wants to develop a relationship with us. Let us accept the invitation and respond in love.