More Help for Prayer

Flailing around? Not sure what to do? Or just need a shot in the arm? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Acquire Peter Rohrbach’s Conversation With Christ: The Teachings of St. Teresa of Avila about Personal Prayer here.
Rohrbach outlines the backbone of personal prayer as Teresa of Avila saw it:
  • Praise and Adoration
  • Gratitude
  • Penance and Sorrow for Sin
  • Petition
Rohrbach’s book is very helpful for giving some concrete form to our good desires to pray.

2. Acquire for your children Geoffrey Bliss’ outstanding My Path to Heaven here. With incredible illustrations by Caryll Houselander, this book guides a young reader through a series of the most important questions we can ask ourselves.

3. Praying with Scripture
  • Read the Gospel of Mark in one sitting as if you had never read it before. How does it strike you? This was a suggestion of scripture scholar Tim Gray.
  • Read a chapter of Scripture. Imagine the scene—really—what kind of trees are there, how hot is it, how many people are there, is it loud or quiet? Make it palpable. Then put yourself in this world. How would you have felt in this situation? How should you? If you had been here what would you have done? Ask God what He wants you to take from this passage. Read it slowly. Reread it. Read it aloud.
  • If you have footnotes or cross-references in your Bible, read them. Let them take you to related passages in other parts of the Bible. Read the passages, read their context. How do these shed light?
  • Acquire Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture here or the Navarre Bible here and read Scripture with solid commentary rooted in the Fathers. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture was recommended to me by Fr. Joseph Carola, S.J., a patristic scholar at the Gregorian in Rome. This series sets out a short passage of scripture, then follows up with all the top commentaries by the Church Fathers, complete with headings so you can skim through and see the gist of each comment.
4. For an overall understanding of prayer and the spiritual life, read:
5. Prayer is a gift from God, not a skill or talent, although instruction, practice and habit can deepen it. You can’t read some books, cross all your “t’s” and then expect, “Now I will have deep and rewarding union with God.” For a good view on humility and receptivity in prayer, read:

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