Prayer for Beginners by Peter Kreeft

Praying is more important than eating because your soul is more important than your body.

Only prayer can save the world because nothing can ever cure our sick world except saints, and saints are never made except by prayer. Prayer makes saints – The whole universe is a saint-making machine. And prayer is the fuel that powers it.

Pray because God commands it – He yearns and longs for us to pray more passionately than any earthly lover yearns for his beloved to turn her eyes and her attention to him.

We don’t need prayer methods – can you talk to a friend? Then you can talk to God, for he is your Friend. And that is what prayer is. There can be no technique for love, no “method” for loving.

The single most important piece of advice about prayer is one word: Begin!

Vocal prayer – God infinitely prefers a heart without words to words without a heart when we pray. But the road to wordless prayer is paved with words.

If others’ words are the only words lovers use to each other, they are not lovers but performers.

Your heart is what your Lover craves.

“Stop, look, listen”

“I look at Him and He looks at me”

Praying by reading the Gospels prayerfully and “listeningly” is one of the very best ways to pray.

Seek only Him, do not use Him as a means to seek any other end.

Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act reap a habit; sow a habit; reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

Once you really know Him, you will do anything for Him, simply because of Who He is.

Ancient chinese parable:

  • Fact, Faith, and Feeling are three men walking along the top of a well. As long as Faith keeps his eyes on Fact, ahead of him, all three keep walking. But when Faith takes his eyes off Fact and turns around to worry about how Feeling is doing, both Faith and Feeling fall off the wall. (But Fact never does.)

What Should I Say When I Pray?

  • Repentance – act of love saying sorry.
  • Adoration – the heart of prayer, should consume most of our time.
  • Petition – we should spend more time on our intercession for others than on our petitions for ourselves
  • Thanksgiving

“Jesus”

  • The shortest, simplest, and most powerful prayer in the world.
  • The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases,19 but holds fast to the word and “brings forth fruit with patience.”20 This prayer is possible “at all times” because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus. ~ CCC 2668
  • Invoking Jesus’ name invokes his real presence, not mental imagination. It is actual, not potential.
  • His name is a sacramental.
  • We do not always get specific answers, even when we invoke his name; but we always get the Answerer.

Perspective Story

  • Two men were hauling stones through a muddy medieval street. One was cursing and the other was singing. A traveler asked them what they were doing. The curser replied, “I’m trying to get this damned rock to roll through this damned mud!” The singer replied, “I’m building a cathedral!”

Work = Praying Always

  • Our actions can be a form of prayer.
  • Change your motive
  • Instead of peeling potatoes because we want to taste them, we peel them because we love God, the God who wants us to peel potatoes right now.
  • “Pick up a straw for love of God” ~ Brother Lawrence

Distractions

  • Expect distractions and be patient with ourselves
  • Simply ignore them and “get back on the horse” over and over again.
  • It is the will that gets the mind back on the horse

Sin

  • We must turn from sin in order to turn to prayer. Sin inhibits prayer as infidelity inhibits love.
  • The habit of prayer is our strongest protection against sin.

Simplicity – Prayer as Saint-making

  • Sanctity is like dieting. We are far too fat (spiritually).
  • John the Baptist gave us the formula for sanctity: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
  • We must do everything for God, even picking up a straw.
  • Offer everything – prayers, works, joys, sufferings – continue this “morning offering” right through till evening and till death.
  • God is perfect love, and perfect love demands the perfection of the beloved.

Prayer is essentially the practice of the presence of God, and that is the road to Heaven. There is no alternative. God is the only game in town. All other roads are dead ends.

Suffering

  • Prayer is the most practical and powerful answer to suffering.
  • What makes our faith in the Doctor more than a blind leap in the dark is the fact that he has suffered far more than we.

Patience 

  • We cannot go faster than grace.
  • Be patient with time – God will come in His own time, when you least expect it.
  • Be patient with failures – repent but never be discouraged.

Grace

  • “The greater perfection a soul aspires after, the more dependent it is on divine grace” ~ Brother Lawrence
  • The more saintly we are, or the more saintly we aspire to be, the less we rely on ourselves and the more we rely on God’s grace.
  • “Everything is grace” ~ St Therese
  • Don’t try to climb the chimneys (hard methods) to get to sunlight (grace) when you can walk out the nearest door (Christ Himself).
  • When we pray, instead of trying to produce love in our souls towards God, we should be basking in God’s love for us.

Perseverance

  • If we love our bodies, we must do violence to the diseases that are doing violence to them. If we love our families and our country, we must defend them against violent aggression by violence if necessary. If we love our souls, we must do violence to all the spiritual diseases or spiritual aggressors that are doing violence to our souls.
  • “I have so little time today that I can’t afford not to pray” = you’ll find at the end of the day that somehow you accomplished more than you could explain. God really performs the miracle of multiplying our time – but only if we give it to him first.

“Never, never, never, never, never, never, never give up” ~ Winston Churchill

  • Churchill’s “never” was only for his battle against Hitler; ours is for our battle against Satan. His was only to save England; ours is to save our eternal souls. His ally was only the armies of America; our ally is the armies of Heaven.

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