Saint Padre Pio wisely once said,
“Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips, but with your heart. In fact on certain occasions you should only speak to Him with your heart.”
Prayer is how we foster our relationship with Jesus and grow into more intimate union with Him. Heartfelt prayer, in essence, not only reveals the soul’s innermost vulnerabilities, but further opens the humble heart to the treasures of Christ’s most adorable Heart and His unfailing love for His children.
Prayer is often broken down into four parts: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication.
Adoration of the Lord and His Gentle Breath of Consolation on the Soul
Adoration involves the utmost and sincere adulation for the all-good, omniscient and omnipotent God. By adoring our Lord, we worship Him, giving God His due respect and reverence. “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” (Psalm 95:6, New American Standard Bible)
Practical applications of adoring and honoring Jesus include time spent in Eucharistic Adoration and receiving Holy Communion worthily. When adoring our Lord in the Eucharist, it is key to remember that it is just as important to listen to Jesus as it is to speak to Him.
Eucharistic Adoration then becomes a beautiful dialogue between the ultimate Lover (Jesus) and His beloved (Christ’s follower).
When adoring our Lord, He may manifest Himself like the air that surrounds us, such as in the quiet breath or stirrings of the Holy Spirit, or as a powerful wind, whipping at the soul, to wake one from perhaps a spiritual slumber.
One may feel a welcome “breeze” of consolation in his or her soul after conversing with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, a sense of peace knowing that the dear Lord not only hears him or her, but loves His people with intensity beyond any human’s capacity for loving.
The Fire of Purgative Contrition
The prayer of contrition concerns a penitent or sinner having true sorrow, or contrition, for sins or wrongs committed.
The two types of contrition are perfect and imperfect contrition. Perfect contrition involves feeling sorrow for sins committed because of love for God, realizing that because God has been offended, He has been regrettably hurt.
Imperfect contrition concerns remorse for sins because of the fear of just punishment and lost reward (the pains of Hell and the loss of Heaven).
Although one who approaches the Sacrament of Confession with imperfect contrition does so in an acceptable manner, one should strive to cultivate his or her imperfect contrition into perfect contrition. God is a just, but also merciful and loving, God.
He longs to have heart to heart conversations with His children, relieving the burdens of their souls. The power of a repentant soul on fire for the Lord is remarkable!
In the words of St. Catherine of Siena (as paraphrased by St. Pope John Paul II), “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”
Prayers of Thanksgiving: Enriching the Fertile Soil of the Soul
There are myriad reasons to thank the Lord: for sending His only Son Jesus to die on the Cross for our sins, for His blessings and graces, as well as crosses and trials. Like the earth that is “appreciative” for the blessing of rain, and generates new life that springs forth as a result, so the soul should be thankful for the positive blessings of life granted from the Lord.
Embracing an attitude of gratefulness for graces received helps to nourish the soul, allowing God to pour new appreciation for life into the depths of a person’s heart.
Similarly, the earth may also be perceived as being “thankful” for the tilling of its soil, a process which may seem unsettling, yet is beneficial for it, as it allows the soil to bear fruit. And so it is with the soul.
God may “till” the soul by subjecting it to trials and disappointments, yet these crosses to bear, which may feel unsettling, weed out the soul’s imperfections and allows it to “bear fruit” in the forms of spiritual growth and in strengthening one’s trust in Jesus.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30, NASB)
The Flowing Waters of Supplication
Supplication is a prayer of petition, a humble plea to the Lord, speaking to God of the heart’s needs, desires, and requests for blessings in others’ lives. An example of the prayer of supplication includes novenas, a type of prayer which is said, usually once a day, over a nine day period with the hope of receiving a special grace from God.
When praying prayers of supplication, or those that involve repetition, one should pray with confidence.
It is also helpful to remember that God’s ways are not the ways of the world, and that He answers prayers in His time, and according to His will. Sometimes the answer is “yes,” sometimes “no,” and still other times the Lord’s answer is simply, “wait,” but every answer God gives is always according to His perfect plan and for the benefit of the soul’s salvation.
Prayers of supplication may remind one of dripping water, quietly but constantly imploring Jesus’ help. Or, this type of prayer might resemble a large ocean wave repeatedly surging toward the heavens, a dynamic plea persistently directed toward the almighty Father.
Every “drop” of prayer or mighty request for help, no matter how small or big, is precious to the Lord. Jesus longs to hear the inner yearnings of souls!
Prayer, then, truly is the key to unlocking Christ the King’s heart. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6, NASB)