Growing in Prayer
Growing in prayer is one of the most important things we can do in our spiritual lives. In fact, our entire spiritual life is dependent on the state of our prayer life, the foundation of our relationship with God. The Avila Institute provides a place for the faithful to make progress in the spiritual life by taking courses designed to help bring their minds and hearts closer to God.
“Prayer is difficult, challenging, and life-changing. The journey into prayer, into the heart of God, is the reason we were made; it is the reason God brought us into existence.” These words from Matthew Kelley, found in the forward of Into the Deep: Finding Peace through Prayer, remind us of how essential prayer is in our lives. Take a minute to reflect on these words:
“Prayer is difficult, challenging, and life-changing. The journey into prayer, into the heart of God, is the reason we were made; it is the reason God brought us into existence.”
If prayer is the reason God brought us into existence, wouldn’t it be important that we get it right? Although prayer is the most important thing in our lives, we get it wrong far too often. We get it wrong by not praying enough, by quitting when it gets tough, and by listening to the voice of the world more often than we listen to the voice of God. All of these things keep us from growing in prayer. If we truly believed that prayer was the thing for which we were created, we would spend a lot more time in prayer seeking to grow in union with our Creator. If we truly believed that growing in prayer was the most important thing, then we would not quit when we encounter difficulties or get busy with the work of our day-to-day lives.
Even when we want to improve our prayer lives, sometimes it is hard. Sometimes we feel like we do not know how to pray. While this can be a frustrating realization, it is necessary to understand this. The first step in prayer is accepting that we do not know how to pray. Recognizing our insufficiency makes us receptive to grace from the One who is sufficient to fulfill us. When we acknowledge we cannot do anything, even pray, without the grace of the Holy Spirit, we open ourselves to receiving the grace of God. The fact of the matter is that we are incompetent in the spiritual life on our own. Fortunately, God gave us many tools to help us in our journey. He gave us the sacraments and the Church. Within the Church, He gave us great saints who have written down their experiences to help us when we feel like we are helpless. The saints were people who were successful in prayer. Through them, we can learn how to persevere and grow in union with God.
Growing in Prayer with the Avila Institute: If you want to learn how to overcome difficulties in your prayer life, a great place to start is at the Avila Institute, where you can take courses like “Foundations of Prayer” that help you to grow in your own personal spiritual formation. Foundations of Prayer will be offered this Spring beginning on May 4th. The course is filling up quickly, so apply soon to ensure a spot. If you are admitted to the school, you can sign up for any of the courses we offer in any of our four quarters. You can see a full list of our upcoming courses and dates offered by visiting the webpage for the School of Spiritual Formation. You can take as few or as many classes as you would like.
Applying for the School of Spiritual Formation is easy and free, and all of our courses are offered online. Students testify time and time again about how our courses help them overcome barriers in their spiritual life. Each course costs $150, and full and partial scholarships are available on a need-basis. Below is more information about the upcoming Foundations of Prayer course.
Foundations of Prayer and Union with God:
Taught by Dan Burke, this course reveals a panoramic view of the breadth and beauty of the Catholic mental prayer tradition from the inception of prayer to the heights of contemplation. The course will cover the following:
- How to know God and His love in prayer.
- How to grow deeper in prayer and relationship with God.
- How to overcome obstacles to growth in prayer.
- How to identify and avoid false teachings on prayer.
- Forms of prayer in the Catholic Tradition.
- All course meetings are online.
- Start Date: Thursday, May 4, 2017.
- End Date: Thursday, June 8, 2017.
- Day/Time: Thursdays 8:30 – 10:30 PM (Eastern US).
- Class Dates: May 4, 11, 15 (Monday), 25, June 1, 8.
Apply today in order to sign up for Foundations of Prayer and Union with God this May. If you have any questions about how we can serve you, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: In addition to the Foundations of Prayer Course, we will also be offering Evangelization and the Spiritual Life taught by Julie Enzler. This course will be offered from 7:00-9:00 PM Eastern on Fridays in May through early June. See a full list of course dates here.
Art: A Hermit Praying, Gerrit Dou, between 1645 and 1675, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Book cover for Into the Deep: Finding Peace through Prayer courtesy of Dan Burke and used with permission. Photography of Dan Burke used with permission.