Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 7

As I mentioned, this week was an easy one for me. I had (and still have) a lot of work to catch up on, but my time in the office and classroom was pretty light. I've been very happy these days and I'm not sure if I can point to religion, warm weather or a thriving marriage, but something is just working for me. I'm sure I'll be on the flip of this emotion at some point in the future, so don't worry about overly sugary posts.

As you remember from last month, I fell in love with meditation. It was amazing. This month, however, I'm not doing much of it. I am trying to pray and I'm going to be honest here, I have no damn clue what I'm doing. I've tried to spend some solid time memorizing prayers and responses for church on Sunday, but have reached a point of frustration.

I don't know the basics of prayer and the Bible is only confusing me. So, I scoured the Book for answers.

Matthew 6:7 gives me some initial advice.
"When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think their gods will hear."
He tells me to stick to the Lord's Prayer and then all should go well. Alright. Less is more. I like that. So my prayer that used to start with "Dear Lord" (which admittedly sounded like the beginning of a love letter than a prayer) has been tossed to the side. No more "Dear Lord". Thanks Matthew.

But that can't be it.

The problem with this is that I feel no connection to anything when I say the Lord's Prayer. It's just something that I had to memorize when I was a kid and slightly alter as a Catholic. I throw it into the same category of lyrics that I misheard when I was a kid and then embarrassingly blurt them out at an inopportune time. Which, by the way, is a pretty common occurrence. Since I've never been able to carry a note and the fact that I'm 100% tone-deaf, I've been jinxed to a life of mouthing or whispering lyrics. This curse has been quite troubling for me. I was kicked out of the youth choir because of it. Sure, Ms. Berry claimed it was because of my behavioral problems, but I knew it was my terrible voice. I could never get lead roles in elementary school plays, either. They always went to the other kids with perfect singing voices (and parents working for the school). Even in Korea, I've been unofficially banned from karaoke events because of my monotone, horse voice. It's been a lifelong struggle that I'm sure will end up costing me millions of dollars in potential endorsements and a plethora of honorary degrees.

I digress. I've heard too many people pray to know that a single pass at the Lord's Prayer isn't enough. So, what do I say?
In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. -Romans 8:26
Well, that doesn't help much. Mark?

For this reason I tell you: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for. -Mark 11: 24
Whatever I ask for? Alrighty then, I would like to have solo access to the Smoky Mountains whenever I'd like. No one else, but me, my wife and dog. Good? I have a feeling that people use this verse too much. I think that everyone's either praying wrong or that it doesn't really matter.

And then here comes Catholicism to put me in my place. They know the way. I bought a rosary last week. Little did I know that it would be so much work.

First, I must cross myself and say the "Apoltles Creed".

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Done. What's next Catholic Church?

Our Father,

who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.  
Easy. How about three "Hail Marys"?
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen 
Now, throw in a little "Glory Be" action...
Glory be to the Father,

and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.
And now that you're finished, you must add in a "Hail Holy Queen" for good measure.
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy,

our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve:
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us,
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.
And there you have it, kiddos. My Friday afternoon and a quarter of my time spent in mass. My question is, with all these memorized prayers being thrown around, when am I supposed to get some actual prayer time in?


  1. Perhaps try reciting the 'Jesus Prayer' and looking to some modern Saints as guides. Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos is an excellent start. Another question, do you believe what you are saying, or are you just saying it?

  2. Chris,

    In my heart, I do not believe what I am saying. I don't feel bad about that though. Faith, in any religion, doesn't have a timetable and it appears that two weeks isn't long enough for me. Perhaps one day, but not yet. I'll take a look at your recs though.

  3. "In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." -Romans 8:26

    My understanding of this is that when you don't know what to pray, if the Holy Spirit (God dwelling with/in us)is in you, He knows what your heart is and intercedes/prays for you. For example, say that you're trying to pray for someone that is in crisis (or even yourself) and all you can do is cry. You don't even know where to begin but your heart is hurting. The Holy Spirit knows us inside and out and interprets our cries before the Father.


    "For this reason I tell you: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for." -Mark 11: 24

    My understanding of this is that the more we seek God, the more our minds and wills will be alike. Therefore, when we ask for something and don't get it, chances are that is wasn't for our ultimate good and not in line with His perfect will for us. Jer. 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
    Obviously, if we're praying for material things we may not get all we're expecting. However, if we're asking for wisdom about how to handle a situation in a kind and fair manner, most likely, we'll hear something. Trey wanted me to include the old adage, "God always answers prayer: it's always 'yes', 'no' or 'wait'."

    Lastly, my understanding, once again, is that the Lord's prayer is meant to be a guide. It helps us keep in mind the order of importance of things (God is holy, His will and kingdom are what we desire, meet our basic needs, forgiveness of our own get the picture) and reminds us of things in each category, if you will, to pray for. "Daily bread"= what we need to get through the day...