How to Pray. Homily for 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of Spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.

This passage came from St. Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Corinthians and was featured in today’s Second Reading. It presents a backdrop on using the Sacred Scripture as a starting point for prayer.

I heard a story about a seminary professor who was responsible for teaching homiletics to a deacon class. Members of the class would receive an assignment to give, for example, a short, 5-minute funeral homily or wedding homily or daily Mass homily. One day the professor asked the class to give a homily teaching the congregation “how to pray.”

The result: every student failed.

Why? They preached “about” prayer. They described prayer. They gave examples of what the saints and popes and Church Fathers said about prayer. The problem was that the assignment was to teach people “how to pray.” It involved the process, the mechanics the “how-to” of prayer.

One example of prayer is lectio divina. Lectio is a way to prayer with the Scriptures. One way to see how this might work is found here.

For a second approach, click on the lectio-prayer-page link here.This will bring you to a pdf document file.

  • Print out the page.
  • Fold it length-wise so that Step X: Wrap It Up / Step 1: Eyes to See are on one side of the page with Step 2: Ears to Hear / Step 3: Change to Make on the other side of the fold and it looks like this:


  • Fold it again to that Step O: Prepare / Step X: Wrap It Up is on one side and Step 1: Eyes to See is on the other side and looks like this:
  • Now, flip the paper so that it looks like this:
  • Start with Step O: Prepare. Pray that the Holy Spirit for the grace to hear God speak through His word: the Bible.
  • Turn to Step 1: Eyes to See. Go to a place in the Bible - doesn’t matter where. Start reading. When a passage “catches” your attention - stop! Spend time in silence “ruminating” and thinking about the passage.
  • Turn to Step 2: Ears to Hear. What is God telling you in your thoughts as you contemplated the passage?
  • Turn to Step 3: Change to Make. What is God asking you to do or not do? Any changes suggested in our thoughts?
  • Step X: Wrap It Up. Thank the Lord for your experience to close out the prayer time.

Why all of the folds? When folded up, you have a small, handy “prayer guide” that you can carry in your pocket, purse, shirt, etc.. ready to pull out and guide your prayer time. You can also give it to another person as well. This can be an easy, non-threatening “evangelization” conversation starter. You can show it to someone else and say, “Look what we did in our church recently.” Guide them through the folding process. Give it to them to keep. You’re sowing good seed perhaps on good soil. (Luke 8:1-15)

Why is this important? Allow me to quote St. Mother Theresa:

The world today is hungry not only for bread, but hungry to be wanted, hungry to be loved, hungry to feel that presence of Christ.

Yet, in many countries, people have everything - except that presence, that understanding.

People are hungry for the Word of God: a word that will give peace, that will give unity, that will give joy.

God loved the world so much that he gave Jesus. Today he loves the world so much that he gives you and he gives me to go be his love, to be his compassion, to be that presence - that life of prayer, of sacrifice, of surrender to God.

But you cannot give what you don’t have. That’s why it is necessary to deepen your life of prayer.







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