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8 Tips from St. John Paul II on prayer

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If you want to draw closer to God, follow the Polish Pontiff's prayerful advice.

Though our hearts are made for prayer, it is a true art that requires practice and patience. The good news is that the saints have gone before us and learned how to pray in the midst of many trials and tribulations. Their spiritual wisdom is invaluable and can help us in our own spiritual journeys, giving us encouragement in the daily struggle of prayer.

St. John Paul II was a master of prayer. He prayed for hours each day, interceding for the world and drawing closer and closer in his relationship with God. This is what sustained him during his early life in Nazi-occupied Poland, and it remained the central part of his life while pope.

He wrote much about prayer, often giving practical tips to young people. Here are eight such tips that address various difficulties in prayer and give hope to the soul tempted to abandon prayer.

“Remember that you are never alone, Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives! He has called you and chosen you to live in the freedom of the children of God. Turn to Him in prayer and in love. Ask Him to grant you the courage and strength to live in this freedom always. Walk with Him who is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life.'”

“The Rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth. In the prayer we repeat many times the words that the Virgin Mary heard from the Archangel, and from her kinswoman Elizabeth.”

“Prayer, intimate dialogue with the One who is calling you to be His disciples, must come first. Be generous in your active life … and be deeply immersed in the contemplation of God’s mystery. Make the Eucharist the heart of your day.”

“Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.”

“If you really wish to follow Christ, if you want your love for him to grow and last, then you must be faithful to prayer. It is the key to the vitality of your life in Christ. Without prayer, your faith and love will die. If you are constant in daily prayer and in the Sunday celebration of Mass, your love for Jesus will increase. And your heart will know deep joy and peace, such as the world could never give.”

“How did Jesus himself pray? … we know that his prayer is marked by a spirit of joy and praise.”

“When it is difficult … to pray, the most important thing is not to stop praying, not to give up the effort. At these times, turn to the Bible and to the Church’s liturgy. Meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. Ponder the wisdom and counsel of the apostles and the challenging messages of the prophets. Try to make your own the beautiful prayers of the Psalms.”

“When you pray, you must realize that prayer is not just asking God for something or seeking special help, even though prayers of petition are true ways of praying. But prayer should also be characterized by thanksgiving and praise, by adoration and attentive listening, by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness. If you follow Jesus’ advice, and pray to God constantly, then you will learn to pray well. God himself will teach you.”

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