Three Minutes with Newman
Three Minutes with Newman
Times of Private Prayer
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Times of Private Prayer: Conversing With God
When do you speak to God? Do you make time for prayer to God? We often eat meals with families and friends, watch sports events or listen to concerts, spend time reading blogs and newspapers. Yet, we fail to make time for God.
In sermon titled “Times of Prayer” Blessed John Henry Newman teaches us, together with the saints, of our need to pray to our Father God. For example: St. Augustine explains the Lord’s Prayer to Proba, a wealthy woman. St. Teresa of Ávila explains that it is a trusting conversation with the One who loves us. The Curé of Ars learns from a parishioner that to pray is to look at Him. St. Thérèse of Lisieux tells us that it is a glance of the heart, a look towards heaven. And St. Josemaría Escrivá reminds us that prayer is personal –  about God and about you.
Prayer is a privilege but it is also a duty; it is not something optional like reading a novel or having a snack. Newman distinguishes between two types of prayer: “Public worship, indeed, from its very nature, requires places, times, and even set forms. But private prayer does not necessarily require set times, because we have no one to consult but ourselves, and we are always with ourselves; nor forms, for there is no one else whose thoughts are to keep pace with ours.”
Then he recounts examples of the prayers of Jesus, and of the saints in the bible, and reminds us of Jesus’ instruction: “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6:6).
Newman explains that “it is necessary to insist upon this duty of observing private prayer at stated times, because amid the cares and hurry of life men are very apt to neglect it: and it is a much more important duty than it is generally considered, even by those who perform it.” He suggests two reasons.
A first reason for private prayer is that it serves like impulses to the mind throughout the day, and by this means  God ‘instructs and engages us in whatever is our duty.’ Newman notes that we should pray throughout the day, but we need to set aside time, “to make leisure time” at least in the morning and evening to spend with God. Regarding prayer in the evening he writes:
“A like reason may be assigned for evening prayer, viz. as affording us a time of looking back on the day past, and summing up (

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