Preparation for Prayer

Distal Preparation

Pick a time to pray, usual an hour.
Pick a place to pray.
Pick a Scripture passage or a topic for prayer. When we use the Sunday reading, we also pray with the Church.
Keep the topic in mind particular when you go to bed and when you first wake up. Link your own activities with the passage. For example, during Advent, when you prepare to go to work, you can think of preparation for the coming of Christ.

Proximal Preparation

The minute before you start praying, recall what you have done up to the moment (to be more aware of your condition, which makes the transition to prayer smoother), and remind yourself of what you will do next, mainly to encounter God.
Offer the hour to God, so even if we were distracted, all the actions and intentions of that hour have been dedicated to God.
Ask for a grace. This can follow the liturgical season, such as repentance for Lent, or joy for Easter. A grace that is always appropriate is a better familiarity with God. Though what one asks for maybe quite different from what God grants, it is still good to have a conscious direction.
Review the topics of the prayer.

The Prayer Period

Enter each part of the topic.
For Contemplation, put oneself into the scene; be sensitive to the appearance, feelings, and actions of the people in that scene.
For Meditation, elaborate and weight each aspect of a teaching, an idea, and its application.

The heart of the prayer is a dialog with God. Contemplation or Meditation or other ways are just means to stir one's heart and mind in order to enter into a dialog with God. Of course in a dialog one can talk, listen, or be quiet together.

After the Prayer Period

Record the movements of the prayer period. Write down what comes to mind.
Review how well the prayer has gone. If the period was dry, try to see whether it was prepared right and whether any improvement should be made. If one cannot see anything wrong, then just be patient with God. If the dryness continues for a number of days, consult a spiritual director.

Updated: 1/2/96