Are you Really Praying or Just Talking to Yourself?

Are You Really Praying or Just Talking to Yourself?

Coming out of a chapel after praying the rosary with a few other Catholics, a friend of mine was surprised when several of those who were with him revealed that they were moved by his prayers. They were all praying the rosary together and he had simply led a decade as requested. He was a bit surprised by their response. He was not conscious of himself during prayer but was very present with Jesus and Mary. In response, he just shrugged it off and assumed that those present were effected at a spiritual level by something that was beyond him.

Having had the opportunity to pray with him and talking with him afterwords, it was clear to me what was happening. St. Teresa of Avila says about vocal prayer that,

“A prayer in which a person is not aware of whom he is speaking to… I do not call prayer however much the lips move.”

He revealed to me that, at that time, he was very aware of whom he was speaking to. To those around him, there was tangible evidence of this.

How did they know? This is simple: When he talks to God, even when praying vocal prayer or prayer written by someone else, his tone and approach is the same as when praying extemporaneously. This means that he prays as if he is having an encounter with a real person, because, he is.

This really is the challenge of vocal prayer and memorized prayers, etc. We can easily fall into the trap of failing to really connect our hearts to our mouths, by just allowing our mouths to run on empty.

The Contemplative RosaryEditor’s Note: For additional insight and help in practicing true mental prayer, or meditation, click here to purchase “The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila” by Dan Burke and Connie Rossini.

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Art for this post on whether you are really praying, or talking to yourself: Seraphym Designs: Photography used with permission of Arasely Rios, all rights reserved. Cover of The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila, used with permission, all rights reserved.

About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio – Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, the High Calling Seminary Preparation Program, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction.

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  • Playcard2U

    Is there not some reference in the Bible that cautions about repetive praying… like no one will be even listening “up there”? If so, how does saying the Rosary fit in?

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