Help me To Pray

By Father Mike Muhr

Father Mike, Help Me To Pray

Many years ago, a friend of mine made the following critique about most of the homilies he had heard over the years. He said, “You priests do a great job suggesting what we could do to grow spiritually, but you stop before you show us how to do it.” He suggested more homilies with a “How to” approach. That’s what I would like to offer here. Here is a format for prayer that you may find helpful. To make it easy to remember, I’ll use the acronym SAVOR for the movements in this prayer that nurture our relationship with God. Here is how I would describe each of them:

S - Silence. Unless we find a way to turn off the noise and distractions outside our bodies and inside our hearts and minds, we’ll never hear God who comes to us like to Elijah as “a small, still voice,” 1Kgs 19:12. When you pray be sure to take the time you need to become quiet first, allowing yourself to become aware of the presence of God.

A - Ask for a grace. St. Ignatius of Loyola strongly recommended that whenever we pray that we be specific. “Lord, help me grow in faith,” or “Help me trust you more,” or “Give me the grace to love or forgive.” As you begin to pray, name the grace you wish to receive.

V - Voice your thoughts and feelings. Let the Lord know what is happening in your life. What you really think and how you feel, your hopes and concerns. What, in particular, needs to be addressed in prayer? For what are you thankful? What worries or distresses you?

O - Openness. Many people stop praying before they hear God, but this is the time to really listen. How will God speak? Sometimes it will be through the Scriptures, spiritual reading or through something we recall another has said. Sometimes you may sense God consoling you or encouraging you. Perhaps God is calling you to something new.

R - Respond. A result of listening in openness to God is your response in love. Prayer changes us. It may be a change about the way you think or live. Or it may be a deepening of your love for God and others.

I hope that this practical reflection on prayer will assist you and all of us in coming to a closer relationship with God, for as much as we desire it, God desires us so much more!

Father Michael Muhr is host of the Seeds of Hope Podcast and Director of Ministry to Priests for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Previously, Father Muhr served as a spiritual director and co-taught courses in pastoral ministry for 14 years at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.