How to Pray These Days: Expert Advice

Do you ever feel like you’re “praying wrong” or don’t know how to start praying? I can assure you from our experience at Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH)… Don’t worry; almost everyone wonders that!

Even Jesus’ disciples wanted to know how to pray. They implored him, “Teach us to pray.” So, Jesus outlined the most fundamental prayer, known today as the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. Each line of this prayer teaches us something important about prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed (holy) be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts
as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.
(Matthew 6:9-13)

We could meditate on what each line of this prayer means, and still would find new insights with each day.

One of the greatest treasures we have is the model of the saints, who were human just like us—with complicated lives, struggles, challenges, joys, and sorrows. Through practice, they became prayer experts. At Pilgrim Center of Hope, we mine their treasured insights like the spiritual gold and jewels that they are, especially through our monthly Socials with the Saints.

Here are some of our favorite pieces of advice:

Four Simple Attitudes

St. Anthony of Padua was known for his teaching style that would captivate the listener. Here’s what he taught about how we should pray:

  1. Open your heart confidently to God.
  2. Speak affectionately with God.
  3. Present to God your needs.
  4. Praise and thank God.
In Difficult Times

When we face challenges, prayer can become more difficult. Through a Social with the Saints at PCH, we’ve learned from someone who understands this well; St. Mary MacKillop. Like Jesus, Mary MacKillop experienced the rejection of her own religious leaders, through an unjust excommunication.

We were in awe as we read that Mary would often say, “Today, God has been so good to me.” Considering her tremendously difficult circumstances, what an insight this was for us, into maintaining a prayerful attitude. She advised,

Let us study the Heart of God and, in doing so, we shall learn many beautiful lessons of patience and love.

About prayer, she said; “Let me humbly place myself in the presence of my God, of my God who created me, my God who redeemed me, my God who sanctified me.”

When Words Fail

What about when we simply cannot express ourselves in words? St. Teresa of Avila assured us, “Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”

Saint Paul further reminds us that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together to communicate with us, as long as we open our hearts: “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27).

Don’t worry; “the holy ones” in this context does not leave you out. “Holy” means “set apart,” and when we choose to pray, we are setting ourselves apart. Jesus encourages us: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day” (John 6:40).

Start Now

Do not be afraid; simply choose to pray. Picture Jesus in your mind. Ask for guidance. You have nothing to lose! God is eager to enter this journey with you.

Take advantage of upcoming opportunities to grow spiritually and practice prayer. We invite you to browse our Port of Hope & Events Calendar; we’re here for you, but most importantly—God is here for you.


Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.