So often, when we think of prayer, we imagine someone sitting or kneeling in perfect stillness. But this isn’t what prayer has to look like for you. Prayer certainly is not something that is or needs to be perfect. Instead, God wants us to meet Him when we can, where we can, and how we can.
What is prayer?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines prayer as “an address (such as a petition) to God in word or thought.” At Hallow, we don’t think it has to be so serious. Prayer is simply having a conversation with God, just like you would talk with a friend.
As St. Therese of Lisieux relayed, prayer can be about love, trial, joy, or anything on your heart and mind. What matters is that you turn your heart towards God, just as you would a friend in conversation, and let the Holy Spirit guide you. Sometimes prayer is a way for us to ask God for something (petition), but other times it’s just about expressing our gratitude for where we see good in our lives (thanksgiving).
Why should we pray?
We pray to place our trust in God. This reliance on God and believing in His will brings us peace, protection, and understanding of our purpose on this earth — to love God and love others.
At Hallow, we believe prayer helps our heart and minds be “hallowed” — made holy. Because when we’re open to the Holy Spirit working through us, we begin to see life as a beautiful gift from God, allowing our hearts, minds, and spirits to be changed and find peace and joy.
When should we pray?
The best part about prayer is that you can pray anytime, anywhere. God is always with you, so you can always talk to Him. If you’re just getting started, or you prefer to have a consistent routine, praying right after you wake up, on your commute, before meals, or before you fall asleep might work well for you.
How to Pray: 6 tips to start praying
1. Start small.
“You don’t climb a mountain in leaps and bounds, but by taking it slowly.” – St. Gregory the Great
If you’re new to prayer or jumping back into it after some time away, don’t try to do too much all at once! As Saint Gregory encourages us, think of prayer as a journey with God. Start with a light walk before you start sprinting.
Begin with a short prayer in the morning, thanking God for the day ahead of you. Or begin praying at night — examining where you saw God in your day before you fall asleep. Don’t force anything — focus on being present with God and listening for His voice.
2. Think of prayer as developing a habit.
“If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly.” – St. Isidore of Seville
Just like making your bed every morning or washing the dishes after dinner, purposefully praying each day helps make it a habit. The more we talk with God, the more natural it becomes to lean on Him in times of worry or thank Him in times of joy.
In Hallow, we recommend listening to our guest session with Mike St. Pierre on his 5 Habits of Prayerful People. You can also set a reminder for any time of the day in the app to help you stay on track in developing your new (or renewed) prayer habit!
3. Don’t think too hard about making prayer perfect.
“Prayer is the raising of the mind to God. We must always remember this. The actual words matter less.” – Pope John XXIII
It’s hard to do anything perfectly when we put pressure on ourselves. The same goes for prayer. Focus on resting in His presence rather than making what you say or how you pray perfect. God wants to meet us right where we are.
We recommend praying with the Examen if you’re struggling with how to rest in prayer. Your guide will lead you with questions, and you can talk to God about your day, just as you would a friend. This daily prayer helps you notice where God moved through your day, ending the day with God while also looking to the next with Him.
4. Listen more, talk less.
“In prayer, more is accomplished by listening than by talking.” – St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Rather than thinking of prayer as our talking with God, consider listening as the main purpose. When we truly rest with God and turn our gaze to Him, we are able to better hear His voice.
If you’re looking to listen better, we recommend praying Lectio Divina to hear God’s voice. Lectio Divina is an ancient practice of intentionally praying with a short section or verse of Scripture. We don’t usually begin Lectio Divina with a certain intention. Rather, we let the Holy Spirit lead us to certain words, images, or phrases that stick out to us in prayer.
5. Don’t be afraid to pray all day.
“We must pray without ceasing, in every occurrence and employment of our lives — that prayer which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in constant communication with Him.” – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
There is no expectation for a certain number of minutes or prayers to say each day. However, what’s amazing about prayer is that wherever you are, God is, too. So, we can — literally — pray to God all day. Anytime we rest with God, acknowledging his presence, we pray.
One way to connect to God throughout your day is to add prayerful music to your daily routine. You can pray with music on your commute to and from work, on a walk, or while you work throughout the day. Hallow offers a variety of music, from Brother Isaiah’s upbeat praise to Gregorian Chant.
6. Remember, prayer can be difficult.
“In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” – St. Paul (Romans 8:26)
It can be tough to pray, especially when we’re experiencing loss, disappointment, trauma, or when we feel abandoned by God. In these times of sadness and grief, we encourage you to listen and pray with the words of those who suffered, too. Maybe the Psalms will speak to you, which embody both the suffering and joy of life. Or, you might find consolation in the Rosary as you meditate with the Blessed Mother on the suffering Jesus endured for us.
Remember, you can always pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you. God knows what we need even when we cannot find the words ourselves.
More prayer tips: how to pray
Once you’ve begun to pray, here are some more tips to help you continue in your prayer journey.
Incorporate prayer into your daily routine.
- Pray right after you wake up to set a peaceful tone for the rest of your day
- Pray while you’re doing dishes or laundry
- Pray while you’re preparing your morning coffee
- Permit yourself to pray before you check your email in the morning — you can even add it to your calendar!
Associate prayer with movement.
Listen to your heart.
If your mind keeps pulling you towards another subject or moment than what you intended for your time in prayer, then yield and pray about what’s on your heart instead. It might be the Holy Spirit nudging you!
Choose a special place for prayer.
This could be a chair in your house, or somewhere outside of the setting where you spend most of your day. If you feel God’s presence among flowers or near water, listen and follow.
Pray with a friend.
Praying with others helps us hold ourselves accountable. Novenas, for example, are great to pray with your partner, a family member, or a friend. You don’t necessarily have to talk about it, but it can be so helpful to have a partner to motivate you in your journey to grow closer with God.
Write it down.
When you think of something you’d like to talk to God about, write it down. It doesn’t have to be pen and paper, either! You can use the notes app on your phone or journal in Hallow. Return to your list or note when you next rest with God.
“Come, Holy Spirit.”
If you’re struggling to get started, remember that you can always call on the Holy Spirit for some help. Simply repeat this prayer — “Come, Holy Spirit.”
We hope these how to pray tips help you in your journey with God. Remember, prayer is a conversation.
If you’re looking for more information on how to pray, return to our main page to learn more about the various kinds of prayers and meditations available to you! You can also download Hallow and try a variety of prayer types with our 2-week free trial.
We look forward to praying with you!