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How to Pray like Jesus

September 30, 2013 by  
Filed under God's Will, Patti Armstrong, Prayer

How to Pray Like Jesus

Monsignor Thomas Richter, who was the vocations director of the Diocese of Bismark for eleven years, became the pastor at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, ND in 2012 and is Chaplain of the Catholic Physicians Guild for the Diocese of Bismark, North Dakota, gave a talk once where he explained that praying like Jesus requires one thing: to desire for God to have his way in your life.

As the vocation director for the Bismarck diocese, it would seem that Msgr. Tom knows about answered prayers. Bismarck is in the top twenty per capita for vocations in the country. But Msgr. Tom would say it’s not a matter of God answering his prayers as it is for him to be answering God's will in his life. The key to prayer, according to him, is to get out of the way.

Msgr. Tom identified the important elements for Christian prayer. “First, you can only pray to the degree you have faith,” he said. “In order to grow in prayer, you have to grow in faith. No matter how many prayer techniques you use, if it’s not in faith, you’re not praying.”

“Second, the heart and soul of faith is this: God is your father and everything that you could possibly desire, he already wishes to give you. God is your father and he can only desire what is best for you. Prayer becomes a graced activity where I allow God to act, where I allow God to do the good for me that he wishes to do. “

Msgr. Tom stated that, since God wants what is good for us, prayer is about allowing God to remove the obstacles so that he can do all the good he wants in our lives. Too often, people fall into the trap of praying to get God to consent to what they want. “That is not Christian prayer,” he said.

Give God his Way

“God has all kinds of good things he wants to do and Christian prayer is God getting us to consent to him. Do you see the difference?” he asked.

GeorgeRichmondTheAgonyintheGardenGoogleArtProject1Msgr. Tom pointed out that coming up with a plan, and then asking God to help us with it, is a very limited way to pray. “No one in the history of mankind ever asked God to become a man and come and save us,” he pointed out. “We never would have thought of it. That was all God’s activity.”

According to Msgr. Tom, the key is how you look at what God is doing in your life. “What God desires every minute of every day is to make you like Christ,” he said. Quoting St. John of the Cross, he added, “God acts for one purpose–to make our souls great.”

For parents, Msgr. Tom advised us to desire for God to get his way with our family. He instructed us to pray, “God, I give you permission to do whatever you want with me, even if it makes me suffer. May your kingdom come, may your will be done.” Msgr. Tom explained that such a prayer describes the Blessed Mother’s prayer: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word.’”

Msgr. Tom stressed that the husband needs to fall in love with the desire to be like Christ. “The wife cannot be under his mission until that happens. Otherwise, she’s submitting to someone other than Christ,” he said. “And then, she’s not in a Christian marriage.”

He said that praying like Jesus will ignite enthusiasm because your thoughts will be, “I cannot wait to see what the Father is going to give to me today!”

For some people, such a prayer can be scary or not seem like enough, so Msgr. Tom suggested asking God to remove obstacles that prevent you from desiring God’s will. In addition to total surrender, he brought up that there is the question of intercessory prayer and asking God for your intentions. He explained that people came to Jesus for healing and God wants us to ask him for help. The key, according to Msgr. Tom, is that in all your petitions, your greatest desire should be for God’s will–for you to desire to be like Christ.

The Treasured Place

Often, your own self will can interfere with your desire to do God’s will. Msgr. Tom explained that the place in which God can work most powerfully is “the treasured place”–the place where you need God the most. It could be an insecurity, or a need, or some other area where you recognize your need for God. At such moments, he said, “God pulls you to places where there is an unfilled desire and you have to rely on him acting in your life.”

In the end, he said that since God does only what is good for us, we can trust that God will bring good out of all things for those who want him to get his way.

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Art for this post on how to pray like Jesus: Photograph of Monsignor Thomas Richter used with permission. The Agony in the Garden, George Richmond, 1858, PD-US published in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1923, author's life plus 100 years or less; The Annunciation, Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo, 1655-1660, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less, PD-Worldwide; both Wikimedia Commons.

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About Patti Maguire Armstrong

Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is an award-winning author and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press's Amazing Grace Series. Her newest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families, a collection of stories to inspire family love, and Dear God, I Don't Get It and the sequel, Dear God, You Can't Be Serious, children's fiction that feeds the soul through a fun and exciting story. Patti's Blog http://www.pattimaguirearmstrong.com. Facebook. Twitter.

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  • RobinJeanne

    That was great…. wonderful affirmation, thank you.

  • Camila

    This is an amazing post. It’s exactly what I needed this morning. I am brought to my knees in humility with just how perfect God’s providence is. Thanks Patti, GREAT post.

  • Patti Maguire Armstrong

    You are welcome, Camila and RobinJeanne. Msgr. Tom is such a blessing in our parish. This talk has changed the way many I know pray. It was also made into a CD and is available through Lighthouse Media.

  • Perfect for the Feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus! Thank you for this beautiful post! In the end, all God desires is “Let Me love you as I want to.”

  • pourmonamiJC

    This is a truly great article – one of the best I’ve read on this most fundamental practice. Thank you Patti. And thank you Tom.

    “Tom would say it’s not a matter of God answering his prayers as it is for him to be answering God’s will in his life. The key to prayer, according to him, is to get out of the way.” Beautiful!

    “In order to grow in prayer, you have to grow in faith. No matter how many prayer techniques you use, if it’s not in faith, you’re not praying.” What to do when one can’t pray in faith?

    “Too often, people fall into the trap of praying to get God to consent to what they want.” Totally, and knowing this intellectually is one thing but not falling into this trap can be something quite different.

    And last but not least,

    How do I elevate my prayer life from the level of a monologue to the level of a dialogue with the best and most intimate Friend I’ll ever have? Do I do all the talking or do I actually leave God some room to speak to me in His silence? And if so, how do I go about listening to Him? In other words, how do I make my prayer life a “two way street”?

    Making prayer a two way street is something that I am truly passionate about as I believe everything hinges on this.

    Thank you again Patti and have a nice day,

    • Vivian Ike

      Thanks so much Patti, in addition

      “How do I elevate my prayer life from the level of a monologue to the level of a dialogue with the best and most intimate Friend I’ll ever have? Do I do all the talking or do I actually leave God some room to speak to me in His silence? And if so, how do I go about listening to Him? In other words, how do I make my prayer life a “two way street”? Making prayer a two way street is something that I am truly passionate about as I believe everything hinges on this.the same here too.”

      Please somebody answer, Fr John Bartunek??? Dan? anyone ???

      • pourmonamiJC

        Hello Vivian,

        I am glad we are on the same page when it comes to listening to the loving silence of God and, our good Lord willing, I will make the teaching of this spiritual practice a ministry. It is, I believe, THE major game changer in the Christian walk and it has the power to set our beloved church on fire and bring many souls in.

        In the immense Christ,

    • Patti Maguire Armstrong

      And thank you for taking the time to share your kind words and insights. God bless you.

  • Jane Jimenez

    Patti, thank you for taking your time to share Msgr. Tom’s insights. I was struck by the insight into the limits we place on prayer and his concrete example…who could have prayed for God to send us Jesus? So often, the philosophical dialogue sails right over or our heads – until – we have a concrete example that makes us stop and think.

    I also appreciated his call to men and women to rightly order our lives in marriage. I write much on feminism. Msgr. Tom encapsulates the foundational problem with the feminist desire to “have power.” Unless power exists in a structure of sharing/giving power and submitting to power – a structure grounded in mutual love and service, we will never resolve the struggles we have today between men and women. Thanks, again!

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