Have you ever set aside time to pray, but then could not find the words to say? There are so many ways to pray that it can be difficult to find what best suits you, but there are no right or wrong ways to pray. Father Albert Haase, Franciscan priest and author of nine books about spirituality, has some advice about choosing how to pray.
Jesus Himself gave us a way to pray with the Lord’s Prayer. “Then there’s praying with scripture, whether that is simply pondering the words of scripture. Or you can use what is sometimes called Ignatian contemplation, where you put yourself in a Gospel scene with Jesus and you literally find yourself there and in your imagination, you watch the whole scene play out,” says Fr. Albert.
Saint “Francis gives us a great practice of praying with creation just by walking outside and listening to the birds and seeing the flowers,” says Fr. Albert. “And then there’s the traditional ways of praying the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, reflecting on my day at the end of the day and seeing the many ways that God has come into my life. There’s ways of simple meditation and centering prayer.”
With all of these and many other methods of prayer, how does one choose the best ways to pray? “There are ways that are more helpful than others. Prayer should sensitize me to the presence of God in my life. Whatever helps to make me more prayerful, more sensitive, more conscious of God’s manifestation and God’s presence in my life—that’s probably a more helpful way,” says Fr. Albert. “And based upon our personalities, some ways of praying are better than other ways, or more helpful than other ways.”
“However I can express what is deepest in my heart and express that to God, whatever helps me to best pour out my heart to God, that’s the best way for you to pray,” says Fr. Albert. He gave an example of one of his spiritual directees: “Alice always says she feels closest to God when she’s puttering in her garden, when she’s planting her plants or cutting them back or picking the roses, she says, ‘I feel so connected to God because I feel like I am so close to the Creator.’ I think a lot of people would not think of puttering in the garden as being a form of prayer, but for Alice, it makes her glow with the awareness of God in her life. That’s the best way to pray, for her!”