The TV Evangelists do it. Other denominations do it...adult, and child....and Charismatic Catholics do it. They pray earnestly from the heart, within range of anyone to hear, with all the confidence in the world.
I'm trying to do it to, mentored by my priest friend who opened my eyes to what an intimate relationship with Jesus is about: praying from the heart...and listening intently for His Answers in my heart…but it’s a work in progress.
Why do I find it so difficult to pray out loud? Because I'm not talking about a shopping list of prayer requests, peppered with a blurted out 'thank-you' or 'I'm sorry' within a routine of someone else's beautiful words of classic Catholic prayers. I'm talking about a vulnerable cry from the heart expressing a deepening yearning to feel closer and connected to the Lord; understood by Him, inspired by Him, listening for Him, in full service to Him and in tireless pursuit of Him.
Why out loud? For the same reason that I often journal my prayers. Perhaps not as permanent as the written word, the act of speaking the words out loud force them to be deliberate...and a little more vulnerable.
I'm talking about speaking out loud, the quiet stirring from the Holy Spirit, in an un-composed, unrehearsed string of words, struggling at times to properly express them and uninhibited enough to trust that the message won't get mangled, even if it's not all that eloquent. And as if it's not difficult enough to hear myself struggle through, I allow someone else to witness my awkward attempt? Regularly?
Have you ever asked someone to pray for you, and to your surprise, they prayed over you...right at that moment? That's what my now-spiritual director did, the first time I asked him for a prayer. He prayed with me regularly as he became my spiritual director.
Although it was comforting to bask in the beautiful, flowing words of another, addressing my needs and asking for a shower of graces and blessings, I felt a nudge. An uncomfortable, insistent nudge prompted me to admit that maybe I was being called to real participation, deepening my relationship with my Lord and my God, directed maybe, but not dependent on the gifts of my spiritual director. After I blurted out this suspicion that I was being challenged to step out of my comfort zone, it was quickly addressed. Not letting me off the hook by postponing it to a face-to face meeting, I made my first attempt to pray from the heart out loud, in that same phone call. gulp.
Years later, having completed each talk with praying out loud... I feel anything but smooth, but I feel a certain disappointment if I ever dodge the challenge after spiritual direction.
I wish I could say that I pray from the heart with my kids. Although I do pray out loud with my husband and my kids, I usually rely on a familiar routine of memorized prayers, habitual phrases and a continuous floating list of prayer intentions for family and friends.
I desperately want to inspire them to deeper prayer, but I feel like such a newbie at it, learning as I go along, inspired by others who sound like they have been praying naturally, spontaneously and from the heart ...for a lifetime.
I am only a little more confident and a little less apprehensive with each act of trust, and I recognize the graces and strengthening of my prayer life, with each attempt. I think I might always avoid leading prayer in a group...just the suggestion to do a reading at Mass or lead a women's group...makes me want to head for the hills.
But if I am the one to inspire my kids, Lord…I pray for the Holy Spirit to help me and guide me to continue to grow in my prayer life, draw closer to Him and to reflect His unconditional intimate Love for them. I pray that my kids will also feel the nudge to pray from the heart…and ultimately enjoy a closer, more personal relationship with our Lord.
Copyright 2013 Monica McConkey
About the Author
Monica, mom of 5, blogs about Catholic crafts and family traditions at EquippingCatholicfamilies.com. She is an author and creator of Super Saints quizzing cards and over 45 Saint, Sacrament, Catechism and Prayer-packed Craft Kits to help teach the Catholic Faith. The Catholic teaching tools and gifts are available through Arma Dei, the Catholic family publishing company founded with her husband Bill.