Daily prayer did not become a habit for me until 15 years ago when my son was deployed with the Marines to Iraq. I have had the usual ups and downs in daily prayer, and one thing I have learned is that God is pleased that I just show up. There is a peace knowing that our heavenly Father just asks us “to be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Making a commitment to God for daily prayer is important for welcoming the Sacred Heart into your home and heart. This is how we establish a personal relationship with Jesus, the King of Love.
True contemplative prayer does not come easily. This is not because God made mental prayer inherently difficult, but because of our fallen state. We are too prone to have our prayer life revolve around us. But there is a way to break out of this state. Father Mateo Crawley, a great apostle of Sacred Heart Enthronement, advises in his book Jesus, King of Love, that “we must pray as we love; as a child speaks to his mother, lovingly and simply.” This level of prayer takes time as God transforms our self-centered focus to the self-giving love of the Trinity.
St. Paul, in the Epistle to the Romans, states that the “Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words”. One of my first breakthroughs in prayer was the realization that I really do not know how to pray, and that true prayer is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke chapter 11, the disciples observed Jesus praying and asked Him how to pray. His response can be summarized into three points. First, He taught them the Our Father, which, among other things, emphasizes our need for forgiveness and to forgive others. There is no greater block to the love of God than hatred, resentment, and jealousy. Next, He emphasizes perseverance; in other words, just show up and keep showing up. Third, He said we should ask our heavenly Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the source of our gift of prayer and the unifying love of the Father and the Son. We can share in this unifying love because we are members of the Body of Christ. It will become our experience here on earth the more we allow the Sacred Heart to peel off our old nature, and become His new creation.