I have recently realized that I’ve been praying the same way my entire life. It’s starting to feel like I’m running on a treadmill. I’m getting exercise, so it’s not fruitless. But I’m not going anywhere or seeing the beautiful sights that I know the Lord has for me.
I was taught the tried-and-true ACTS method of prayer: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. There’s certainly a place for this form of prayer, but I’ve always been stuck when it comes to listening. Even after being inspired by a beautifully-written devotion, my thought process tends towards, “Ok, God. Here I am. What do you want to say to me? Hello? (Hmm…what should I make for dinner?) Oh! Sorry, God, here I am! Anyhow. Were you saying something?”
A Need for Change
I’ve also recently become more aware that something needed to change in my spiritual life. I was pretty sure it was tied to how I was praying. I don’t expect fireworks every time I pray (or ever!), but I do know that God always has more grace to give. The definition of stupid (or in my case, ineffective) is doing the same thing and expecting different results. And praise the Lord, He heard the desires of my heart. He lead me to a book and a deeper method of mental prayer that I was ready to attempt.
I’m not the kind of person to normally read appendices. But when I came across the method of meditation by Venerable Francis Liebermann in the back of the book Time for God by Father Jacques Philippe, I knew I hadn’t finished the book. It’s a letter written to his fifteen-year-old nephew, so I found it thorough but unpretentious. It was simple enough for me.
While I had previously been introduced to the method of prayer of Lectio Divina, it had never resonated with me. I could see how this new method overlapped with Lectio Divina, while allowing room for reflection on a particular topic or virtue instead of simply a Scripture passage.
A Different Method of Mental Prayer
Father Liebermann instructs you to begin the night before by considering a devout topic. Read about it and think about it, even as you are going to sleep. For your prayer in the morning, after you place yourself in God’s presence, begin by thinking about your unworthiness. Examine your conscience and ask forgiveness for your faults, and then invoke the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray.
The first part is Adoration. Pay homage to God (or thank the Blessed Virgin Mary for her intercession) based on the subject of your meditation. The subject of your meditation could be any virtue, or a devout topic from the life and example of Christ or Mary.
Express to God your wonder and gratitude and how you desire to imitate him.
After you have paused over these thoughts and feelings adequately, you move onto the second step, which is Consideration. Father Liebermann says, “Here, you will gently turn over in your mind the main reasons which should convince you of the truth which you are meditating on.” In other words, the reasons why you need to work on this virtue.
He also gives the helpful caution to not turn this into a mental exercise, where you draw pride in how many things you thought of. Rather, use these considerations to gently allow the Lord to move your heart. Then begin to examine your conscience to see how you behaved or what faults you have committed against this virtue, and how you can begin to avoid that.
Finally, the third part is Resolutions. You begin to specifically consider “in which circumstances of your day you will risk falling into the fault you wish to avoid, or in which circumstances you will be able to make an act of this particular virtue.” Beg God for the grace to keep your resolutions and lovingly consider them. Tell the Lord it is for His glory you are asking. Allow your heart to pour itself out before the Him like a small child before her dear father.
Entrust Yourself to Heaven
Lastly, commend yourself to your Mother, Mary. Ask her, as well as your patron Saints and guardian angel to pray for you to obtain the graces you need for your resolutions.
The thing I have found so beautiful and helpful about this form of prayer is how it takes the pressure off of me to “think of” what God might be saying. My heart is able to be open to how the Holy Spirit wants to inspire me as I reflect on God’s goodness and love for me.
I know it was the Holy Spirit who led me to this book at just the right time in my life. I’m ready to hop off the treadmill and bundle up for the great outdoors. I need some fresh air. I’m ready to see some scenery as I learn to love my Beloved even more.
Do you feel like something needs to change your prayer life? Consider this method! If you’ve ever tried it, let us know in the comments!A Method of Mental Prayer #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Mara Wehrung left part of her heart in Michigan to live with her husband and now two adorable children in a suburb of Cleveland. She is an organist who loves bringing beautiful sacred music to people to help them worship. You can find out more about her here.