Day 2: Learning to Pray
The Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee;
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Prayer must be a matter of the heart, an action which embraces all of who you are. Prayer goes beyond words to probe the depths of God’s Spirit that resides deep within your heart. It may include a deep feeling of restfulness as you sense the Divine presence.
This Reflection tries to help you calm your mind and heart, and move beyond the words of your prayers to the spirit in which they are said. It’s the relationship behind the words that is more important.
Without the feeling of God’s presence, the words run the risk of becoming a mere perfunctory ritual. However, as you pour out your heart to God, with the aid of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, you will feel a renewed sense of trust and love that is essential to a close relationship with God.
Blessed Mary of Perpetual Help, prayer seemed to come so naturally to you. However, I am not sure if I am praying as I should. I need your help.
I sense that my prayers at times become stale and routine, empty words that I simply repeat. I sometimes even feel agitated while praying and unable to concentrate—distracted by the many events of my day. I sense a desire for my prayers to be not only verbal, but also silent and still. I need to seek your Son in the quiet of my heart.
I think of Our Lord’s disciples and the intimate sharing that they experienced with Jesus. That is what I too am asking for. But how many times have I mouthed the words to prayers without allowing my spirit, my mind, and my heart, to really rise up within me and spill over into my prayers?
Blessed Mother, I ask you now to teach me how to pray. I am not asking for the words or even the right attitude that I should have while praying. No, I am asking you to show me how I can turn all of my being, spirit, mind, body, and soul over to your Son. With your help and the rest of the believing community, I want to experience that communion with Our Lord that you possess and so desperately want us to share.
Mary, you are always near so you can show me how to pray from my heart. Come to me, move me, and inspire me.
Say the “Hail Mary” slowly. Notice how it is divided into two parts: praise and petition. Also notice the kinds of petition that are asked for: comfort and guidance now and at the hour of our death. Ask for help to praise Mary and Our Savior through this prayer.
Now recite the words of the Hail Mary a second time. This time, pray the words with a calm and peaceful attitude. If thoughts from the day enter your mind, simply observe the thoughts without becoming attached to them, like watching water flowing in a stream. Gently allow God’s grace into your heart.