“Lord, I don’t know how to pray!”

You write: ‘To pray is to talk with God. But about what?’ About what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know him and to get to know yourself: ‘to get acquainted!’ – St Josemaria, The Way

How should we pray? I would go as far as to say, without fear of being mistaken, that there are many, countless, ways of praying. But I would like all of us to pray genuinely, as God’s children, not gabbling away like hypocrites who will hear from Jesus’ lips ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord!” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 7:21). People who live by hypocrisy can perhaps achieve ‘the sound of prayer’, says St Augustine, ‘but they cannot possess its voice, because there is no life in them’ (St Augustine, Commentaries on Psalms, 139,10 (PL 37,1809)). They lack the desire to fulfill the Father’s Will. When we cry ‘Lord!’ we must do so with an effective desire to put into practice the inspirations the Holy Spirit awakens in our soul…

I have never tired of talking about prayer and with God’s grace I never will. I remember back in the thirties, as a young priest, people of all kinds used to come to me looking for ways of getting closer to Our Lord. To all of them, university students and workers, healthy and sick, rich and poor, priests and laymen, I gave the same advice: ‘Pray’. If any one replied, ‘I don’t even know how to begin’, I would advise him to put himself in God’s presence and tell Him of his desires and his anxiety, with that very same complaint: ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray!’ Often, humble admissions like that were the beginning of an intimate relationship with Christ, a lasting friendship with him.

– St Josemaria, Friends of God

Seeking him, finding him, getting to know him, loving him

Interior life is strengthened by a daily struggle in your practices of piety, which you should fulfil – or rather which you should live – lovingly, for the path we travel as children of God is a path of Love. – St Josemaria, The Forge

I have distinguished as it were four stages in our effort to identify ourselves with Christ: seeking him, finding him, getting to know him, loving him. It may seem clear to you that you are only at the first stage. Seek him then, hungrily; seek him within yourselves with all your strength. If you act with determination, I am ready to guarantee that you have already found him, and have begun to get to know him and to love him, and to hold your conversation in heaven (cf Phil 3:20).

Try to commit yourself to a plan of life and to keep to it: a few minutes of mental prayer, Holy Mass — daily, if you can manage it — and frequent Communion; regular recourse to the Holy Sacrament of Forgiveness — even though your conscience does not accuse you of mortal sin; visiting Jesus in the Tabernacle; praying and contemplating the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, and so many other marvellous devotions you know or can learn…

Please don’t forget that the important thing does not lie in doing many things; limit yourself, generously, to those you can fulfil each day, whether or not you happen to feel like doing them. These pious practices will lead you, almost without your realising it, to contemplative prayer. Your soul will pour forth more acts of love, aspirations, acts of thanksgiving, acts of atonement, spiritual communions. And this will happen while you go about your ordinary duties, when you answer the telephone, get on to a bus, open or close a door, pass in front of a church, when you begin a new task, during it and when you have finished it: you will find yourself referring everything you do to your Father God.

– St Josemaria, Friends of God