The Deacon as a Man of Prayer
It is important to examine and evaluate our prayer life
Deacon Peter Cistaro Comments Off on The Deacon as a Man of Prayer
Prayer can be somewhat automatic at times. Often, we don’t think about our prayer, and maybe we even take prayer for granted. Our prayer can become repetitive, dry, unemotional and done quickly to “get it over with.” Perhaps our prayer becomes a series of statements as opposed to a conversation — a relationship with God.
As deacons, it is important to examine and evaluate our prayer life from time to time. The following is an approach that might help assess and hopefully improve our prayer life.
A while ago, I was introduced to a concept called the “Golden Circle,” developed by Simon Sinek . Maybe you have heard about it? The concept addresses some basic questions:
* Why? — Your purpose, motivation and belief?
* How? — Your specific actions taken to realize your why.
* What or Who? — Your result.
Many people will start with what or who, then how, and finally move on to why.
The Golden Circle reverses the order. Simply put, always start with the why!
Why Do Deacons Pray?
At first, our parents told us we had to pray! Priests, Sunday School teachers and relatives told us to pray. Of course, that approach worked for us as a youngster, but it might not be long-lasting. We have been blessed with so many gifts and opportunities: good health, a good education, a great career, a wonderful wife and family, and a calling and vocation as a deacon. A deacon prays every day to thank God for all of these and many more blessings.
We also pray for the difficulties in our lives: illness, death, job-related issues, financial matters, just to name a few. While we might be bitter, blame God or walk away from God, at these times we need to become closer to God to pray for consolation, direction and peace. Pray in thanksgiving for getting us through the tough times. Pray to always place our trust in God.
Pray to follow the example of Jesus. Pray to have the same type of relationship with Jesus and his Father, to communicate with them daily, to keep Jesus central in your life and to have an intimate relationship with him. Pray to become “holier.” Pope Francis says in Gaudete et Exsultate, “I do not believe in holiness without prayer” (No. 147 ).
Maybe the most important reason to pray is to please God. As St. Alphonsus Ligouri said, “ God loves when we pray and recognize his importance in our lives. Knowing why we pray is very important and sets the tone for how and for what to pray.
How Do Deacons Pray?
There are some obvious ways to pray that are probably used by many deacons, including the Liturgy of the Hours — at least morning and evening prayer — part of the promises made by deacons at their ordination. One way to add even more power to the Liturgy of the Hours is to pray with other deacons or with our wives. Praying as a couple can be a wonderful addition to prayer life.
Attend and assist at daily Mass as often as possible. Spend 10-15 minutes in front of the tabernacle to improve your personal relationship with Jesus. This quiet time of reflection starts with the line from Psalm 46:11, “Be still and know that I am God!” Listening is a very important and often overlooked aspect of prayer.
Read the Mass Scriptures and consider at least one reflection from an email or short video — FORMED, Bishop Robert Barron, ePriest, etc. You never know when you might be asked to preach! During Mass, listen to the readings and internalize them. Proclaim the Gospel with emotion and emphasis. Listen intently to the Eucharistic prayer and keep in mind prayers for the Church, the deceased and all the faithful.
Pray the Rosary daily or as many times per week as possible. One way is to pray while driving to work or when taking a walk.
Another important part of prayer is in preparation of homilies. Always start with a prayer to the Holy Spirit before reading the Scriptures. The Bible is the only book where the author is present while you read.
All actions in charitable service are a form of prayer. Whether it be doing things for your family, parishioners, visiting hospitals or nursing homes — all of these are prayers. Meeting and interacting with people during the day is another opportunity to pray. Your disposition, attitude, smile and calling people by name — these little things make people feel important and respected and is another form of prayer. Keep the words of Jesus in mind, and make it your motto as a deacon, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve” (Mt 20:28).
What Do Deacons Pray For?
The last part of the Golden Circle certainly is not to be considered the least.
The list of people to pray for may be very similar among deacons: family, deceased relatives and friends, those who are ill and have difficulties in life, the pope, bishops, priests and deacons, the men in formation for the diaconate, for increased vocations and for the parish.
Pray for yourself. Ask God to give you the strength to overcome temptation and sin. Pray for the wisdom, humility and courage to fulfill your diaconal responsibilities. Pray to become a better pray-er: to allow more time to pray; and to see prayer as a time of enjoyment. Pope Paul VI wrote in Sacrum Diaconus Ordinum, “surpass … all others … in the love for prayer” (No. 25).
You cannot be a man of prayer and have a relationship with Jesus on your own; you need the help of the Holy Spirit. That is why it is so important to keep the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. The third person of the Blessed Trinity must become our prayer mentor and guide.
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. ”
DEACON PETER CISTARO serves as a permanent deacon at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Parsippany, New Jersey.
Teaching about Prayer
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. — Matthew 6:5-8