February 16, 2021

3 Answers: How Does One Get Started In Prayer?

We asked three people to answer the question, “How does one get started in prayer?” Here is the wisdom they shared:

Eric Gallagher - ComeFollow.Me

Eric Gallagher
Founder of ComeFollow.Me

To me one of the greatest challenges with prayer has been struggling with the idea that giving time to prayer is “worth it” and wondering if God is even listening.  I think many individuals spend time in prayer because they feel they “have to” in order to grow in their faith life or in order to be a good Christian.  The one thing that has most helped me in being able to grow in my prayer life has been to understand that our prayer should be a response to God.  If we are frustrated with things, we should respond to God through prayer.  If we are sad, lonely, afraid, etc. we should talk to God about it. 

My top recommendation for those who want to start having a more committed prayer life is that they simply need to be consistent and honest with their prayer.  Show up every day and be honest with God.  It is, of course, “worth it” to spend time in prayer but for many I think a more proper understanding of what prayer can and should be as well as a resolve to pray each day and be honest with God is the surest way to do it well and to have a confidence that God IS listening.

Fr. Jordan SamsonFr. Jordan Samson
Vocations Director for the Diocese of Sioux Falls and Parish Pastor

One gets started in prayer by starting.  Maybe this doesn’t seem like helpful advice, but bear with me.

I remember coming off a season of life when prayer was particularly dry and to be honest, rather absent.  Going on retreat I sat in the chapel that first day and evaluated my prayer life.  This unclimbable mountain rose in front of my mind.  Thoughts flooded my head that told me I was too far behind in prayer, I’d lost too much ground, I was too far behind everyone else.  Despair and sadness overwhelmed me and there was no footing to even take a first step.

Staying where I was and finally bringing these thoughts to the Lord, it was then that I heard a very clear and peaceful voice speak to my heart that said “just begin”.  This opened a new door for me that was so simple.  It wasn’t necessary to study strategies first (though these are helpful), or learn what spiritual methods help me the most (this has come over time), or even to “catch up” to where I ought to be in my spiritual life (whatever that even means) rather, everyday begin again.  This experience is why I’m convinced that one gets started in prayer by starting.

Trish IrvineTrish Irvine
Content Director for ComeFollow.Me

The basic idea of prayer is having a conversation with the Lord.  And in any conversation there are two critical aspects: talking and listening.  So if you are just getting started with prayer, I recommend starting with a few moments of silence and then just start talking to the Lord.  Try to share with Him whatever moved your heart during the last day, whether that be frustration, anger, joy, happiness, tiredness, or sadness.  Be open and honest, remembering that He cares about everything.  If it happened to you or you care about it, He wants to hear about it.

But if we just talk the whole time, we miss hearing from the wiser person in the conversation.  It is crucial to be open to receive what the Lord has to say to us.  Start with this simple exercise: be silent and imagine Jesus looking at you with love.  Then, wait and receive that love.  The Lord desires to reveal Himself to us, He just speaks in a different way than we are used to experiencing.  Set an alarm or have a plan for how long you plan to receive from the Lord, mostly so you don’t cut it short because you feel like nothing is happening.  Be patient–the Lord loves to work in the silence.

Trish Irvine is a pursuer of the good, the true, and the beautiful. As a high school theology teacher with a penchant for reading and writing, she has numerous encounters with each. Trish has a desire to help others encounter the Lord through a recognition of His presence in the ordinary. Her degree is from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, but her home is the South Dakota prairie.

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