By Lisa Espinoza
It has been said that I’m the only person alive who needs directions to my own mailbox. Indeed, I was the field trip driver who arrived at the Long Beach Aquarium an hour and fifteen minutes late after an impromptu detour through residential San Pedro and the Long Beach shipyards. I arrived 10 minutes after the doors were locked for a college placement test after taking what I was certain would be a shortcut around traffic (HINT: if you’re 8 months pregnant and crying, they’ll probably let you in).
I now have GPS. When the lady says, “Proceed to the highlighted route,” in her smug voice, I want to yell, “If I knew how to get to the highlighted route, I wouldn’t need you!” I need simple, detailed directions to get me going on the correct route to my destination. But if I don’t start driving, even the detailed directions will get me nowhere.
That’s how prayer is. We need guidance. Even the disciples asked Jesus, “Teach us how to pray.” But if all we do is learn about prayer and never pray, we will only have vicarious experiences of prayer through others. As we begin to pray, the Holy Spirit comes alongside to guide us—much like the GPS lady, only without the smug voice.
Saint Gregory the Great said, “You cannot love God’s sweetness if you have never tasted it. Rather, embrace the food of life with the palate of the heart…” This month, may you feast on the food of life as God Himself guides you in prayer.
“Sometimes prayer seems to go well. The danger is that next time I come to pray, I try to re-create that prayer instead of trying to pray from where I am…I must pray from where I am today.” Michael Casey, Toward God
Begin each day this week by telling God where you are—tired, excited, confused, angry, discouraged, hopeful. Share what’s in your heart at that moment.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Each afternoon or evening this week, review the day’s events. What are you anxious about? Rather than ruminate over the details, direct your “worry” to God and make it a prayer.
“In my experience it is a help to have some sort of structure or routine that jollies us along into prayer before our objections get the upper hand.” Michael Casey, Toward God
This week commit to a regular prayer time each day. Begin with 5-10 minutes, once in the morning, once in the afternoon or evening. Try alternating your own prayer with prayer from scripture (such as a few verses from Psalm 119) and make it your own.
Colossians 4: 2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
This week of Thanksgiving, practice a posture of gratitude. Each day, write an entry in your journal, “God, thank you for___________.” Don’t write everything the first day. Savor a few at a time. If you list people, take time to pray for them. You may even want to make a phone call or send a note to let them know you are thankful to have them in your life.
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