Importance of Prayer
If you’re asking the question, ‘How do I discern?’ the one word answer would be ‘pray.’ In prayer we encounter God: we bring Him the questions which the Holy Spirit has stirred in our daily lives, and God speaks to us . Although God already knows us intimately, He desires us to open our hearts to Him and be honest with Him, bringing before Him all our hopes, dreams, struggles and worries.
Here are our top 10 tips on prayer for discerning your vocation.
1. Prayer is conversation with God
St Teresa of Avila said, “Mental prayer is nothing else than an intimate friendship, a frequent heart-to-heart conversation with Him by whom we know ourselves to be loved.” There are many different ways that people pray, but they are all means to the same end, which is communion with God. Like any human relationship, a relationship with God requires time spent getting to know each other, and regular communication – both listening and speaking.
2. Prayer reveals truth
In order for prayer to be effective we do not need to feel some sort of spiritual high. Even if you feel like nothing is happening, just as water dripping on a stone will gradually shape the stone, so too prayer will work to shape our souls. There can be times when prayer is consoling, but there are also times when the Holy Spirit may disturb us, pose questions to us, and reveal things to us about God and ourselves.
3. Prayer is not separate from life
St Josemaria Escriva said: “Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find him.” Attend to how God is present in the events of your day, in opportunities and encounters in which God speaks to you. Cultivate an attentiveness to what’s going on in the realm of your heart. Don’t let God’s action go unnoticed! Review your day and examine how God has been present to you in your thoughts and emotions, even the subtle ones. The Examen Prayer can be a great help!
4. Ask the big questions
Don’t be afraid to ask God questions, even very direct questions like, “Lord, are you calling me to be a priest/religious sister?” Bring to God the questions which are disturbing you and do not be afraid to ask Him for answers!
5. Learn to recognise the voice of Jesus
When you speak to God in prayer, you won’t hear a voice responding from the clouds. But remain open to listening to God – He can speak to us through the beauty of creation, the Mass, good music, Scripture, or other spiritual books. Read more on how God calls.
6. Be open to surprises!
Pope Francis notes how we can be afraid of the surprises God has for us: “Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises. Dear brothers and sisters, we are afraid of God’s surprises! He always surprises us! The Lord is like that” (Easter Vigil, 30 March 2013).
7. Be honest
God wants you to be honest and there is nothing that you can’t talk to God about in prayer, even things you might be ashamed of and struggling with. Prayer is not about putting on a show or telling God what you think you ‘should’ say, but about being real.
8. Be patient
God will answer your prayers at the time which is best for you. Sometimes He has to wait for you to experience certain things to lead you to your vocation. He has not forgotten you. Know that he is working even when it seems like nothing is happening.
9. Faithfulness is key
You won’t always feel like praying – but do it anyway! Faithfulness to daily prayer for 15 minutes each day is more effective than longer sessions of prayer ‘when you feel like it.’
10. Adore Him
Spending time in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is a great way of praying for your vocation.
Prayers for Your Vocation
Prayer can take shape as an informal conversation with God, both speaking and listening. Sometimes when we are not sure of the words to say, it can be helpful to take the words someone else has written, to let them sink in our hearts and make them our own. Here are some prayers that may help you to pray for your own vocation and for others.
Prayer of St Ignatius
Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me.
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.
Prayer to know one’s vocation
Loving God, You have called me to life
and gifted me in many ways.
Help me to become all You desire of me.
Lead me to choose the path of life You have planned for me.
Open my heart to listen to Your call
and guide me with Your Holy Spirit,
that I may have the courage to respond to You.
Enkindle in my heart and the hearts of others
the desire to make the world a better place.
(Prayer of St Columban’s Mission Society)
Prayer for my Vocation (St Mary MacKillop)
Lord, I trust that you have given a unique purpose to my life.
In faith I also know that you will ever endow me
with the graces and gifts I need to live it to the full.
Mary MacKillop always took the time to faithfully listen to your call.
Help me in my everyday life to better hear your will for me
and to have the courage to embrace it as Mary did.
St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop, pray for me.
Reflection of Bl. Cardinal John Henry Newman
God has created me to do Him some definite service.
He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good; I shall do His work.
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place,
while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.
Therefore, I will trust Him.
Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him,
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him.
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers.
He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me.
Still, He knows what He is about.
Loving Father, help me to discover my mission in life.
Bl. John Henry Newman, pray for me.
Prayers for all vocations
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