Stressed out? Deepen your relationship with Jesus with practical methods of prayer.
Every year since 2007, the American Psychological Association has surveyed the country’s anxiety. This year broke the record. Americans are seeking remedies. More and more, people are turning toward the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, New Age meditations, and other practices. However, the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year-old tradition is rich and offers its own ways to address stress and anxiety. Its remedy involves more than tradition. It boils down to applying the teachings of and believing in a person who is also God: Jesus Christ.
That may not sound like a satisfactory answer to someone who just wants peace and quiet. After all, yoga has health benefits, too, and you get to listen to the waves flooding through your ear buds while stretching your sore and aching muscles.
However, the best way to create and maintain inner peace in the chaotic world in which we live is to deepen your relationship with the Prince of Peace.
Meditation and contemplative prayer are two ways to seek the freedom that comes from a deeper connection with our Lord. While those methods are not just for monastics, they have certainly fine-tuned them and provided direction so that even in the hustle and bustle of today’s world, those with little free time can work toward a deeper connection. Examples follow.
Catholics know a lot of vocal prayers, such as the Our Father and blessings before meals. However, mental prayer is different. It’s a spontaneous conversation with God—quite literally a dialogue. One of the greatest advocates for this form of prayer was St. Alphonsus Liguori, who taught his method in his book, The Mysteries of the Faith.
How to Do It
Begin with an act of faith and humility. Saint Alphonsus suggests the prayer:
My God, I believe that You are here present, and I adore You with all my heart. I deserve at this moment to be burning in hell for my sins. O my God, I am sorry for having offended You; pardon me. Eternal Father, grant me light in this meditation, that I may profit by it. Amen.
Although you may notice that this opening is rather formulaic, it helps to place ourselves in the right frame of mind before continuing.
A Hail Mary and a Glory Be in honor of St. Joseph, your guardian angel, and your patron saint may also be said. Then, do some spiritual reading from the Psalms, the New Testament, or another edifying Catholic source. Stop after a bit and consider what you have learned.
Then, St. Alphonsus recommends the following prayer:
O Lord! [do with me] as You please; help me to know all that you require of me: I wish to please you in all things. Amen.
Talk to God about what you learned and ask him to help you apply this in the future. Pray an Our Father and a Hail Mary, particularly for the souls in purgatory. Finally, resolve to apply what you learned.