Prayer, how can I improve my religious path?
Prayer is our best weapon to increase our compassion for others and see life in a different, more joyful way. Jesus is in us and us being grateful for our redemption and His love is best expressed through prayer. Our love for God is perfected, we let go of our selfish ways and become aware of life's miracles, our neighbor, and God's love for us.
According to Teresa of Avila and several other saints, contemplation prayer is the ultimate prayer. Saint Gemma's book explains the different levels of prayer in detail.
Book: Prayer: The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection by Liguori, St. Alphonsus
What tools do we have besides Mass? The Rosary as a daily prayer (20 mysteries), the Rosary of sorrows (mentioned in the Rwanda apparition, the 7 sorrows of Mary). The Rosary of surrender and novena of surrender are my favorites. Stations of the Cross. Saint Faustina's chaplet and Mercy prayer at 3 pm every day. Sister Josefa Menendez has the most beautiful prayers to Mary, Jesus, and our Father, and I always say the Miserere for each wound of Jesus at Church. Eucharistic adoration. Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays may be too much, then fast once a week. If that is too much, then fast from waking up until your Mercy hour (3 pm) prayer. My key chain has Saint Faustina's Jesus' image on one side and the Trinity on the other, according to Argentina's apparition in San Nicolas, and Jesus' face according to Akiane's painting. The Miraculous Medal of Mary, the Saint Benedict Medal (which works against evil by exorcists) are all welcomed assets too. The Brown Scapular is also worn by most Catholics.
Jesus would leave His disciples to pray alone. Praying is like breathing. The world is suffocating and stressful. We need to pray to listen to God's will, then go back to it to continue the work, an endless cycle.
Jesus said to Elizabeth Kindelmann in 1963:
I complain to you so you can tell my complaints to others. I am so disappointed. What hurts most is that consecrated souls set me aside. They have no time to spend with me. They give their time to other things. You foolish ones, every minute passes. The time you spend on me is never lost. It is saved for eternity. Since you will render an account of how you spend your time, why not do everything for me. This is so easy.
Trinity Medal. Marian apparition at San Nicolas, Argentina, 1985.
Liturgy of the Hours is an obligation undertaken by priests and deacons and available to devoted lay people as well.
Book: Liturgy of the Hours (Set of 4) Large Print Leather by Catholic Book Publishing Co
Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1250 further said on the subject,
By our prayers...that by asking, men may deserve to receive what Almighty God from eternity has disposed to give.
The first book below, a Christian non-denominational book, is a good start in learning to talk to God and not be afraid of your requests. I would stick to Catholic books after this general overview,
Book: Prayer by Foster, Richard
Book: Thirsting for Prayer Jacques Philippe
Book: The Practice of the Presence of God and the Spiritual Maxims Lawrence, Brother
Book: Praying the Rosary with Pope Francis
Book: Introduction to Devout Life-AB Sales, Francis de
Book: Catholic Book of Prayers: Popular Catholic Prayers Arranged for Everyday Use by Fitzgerald, Maurus
Book: Visits To The Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary by Alphonsus Liguori
Book: The Stations of the Cross: In the Footsteps of The Passion by Catherine Doherty
Book: Manual for Eucharistic Adoration by The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration
Remember that prayer diminishes pride, alms-giving decreases selfishness, and fasting weakens body lust and gluttony. To advance in prayer, one must learn meditation, contemplation, examen prayer, and how to deal properly with desolation.
Book: Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
Book: The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living by Timothy M
Book: The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today by Timothy M
Book: Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Prayer with Scripture (Crossroad Book) by Timothy M
Book: The Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius of Loyola
Book: Treatise On Prayer and Meditation by St Peter of Alcantara
Another reason to pray. In August 1917, at Fatima Portugal, Mary said:
Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.
Book: I Am: Eucharistic Meditations on the Gospel by Conchita
Jesus explained the importance of the Blessed Sacrament, prayer, and confession to a Benedict Monk from 2007 to 2016! His teachings are summarised on this page in reference to his most influential book,
Book: In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart - The Journal of a Priest at Prayer by A Benedictine Monk
Jesus explained to the Benedict Monk,
Pray using My Mother's Rosary, even when you feel that your prayer is empty or mechanical, or when you are beset by distractions. The decision to pray pleases My Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of My Mother. Turn to My Mother in every need of yours... I have made her the Immaculate Mediatrix of all My graces. All that I would give you, I want you to have through her. She is attentive to every detail of your life. Nothing of what you need or suffer is insignificant to her, and this because I have given her a Heart capable of mothering My entire Mystical Body and each of its members from the greatest to the least... Honour her presence in your life. Do not forsake the prayer of her Rosary; it binds you to her. Do not neglect the Ave Maris Stella and the other acts of love for her that she has asked of you or that the Holy Spirit has inspired you to offer her. Such little means are of immense, incalculable value in My eyes and in hers.
To aid conversion, I recommend making a total consecration to Jesus through Mary (as St. Louis de Montfort explains in 1700), in order to bind ourselves more closely to Christ through the example and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This takes 33 days; follow this link after reading the following book,
Book: True Devotion to Mary by de Montfort, Louis-Marie Grignon
Let Catholic music inspire your consecration to Mary,
To make things simpler for beginners, I created a website with three of the most important prayers for a sure conversion of heart and soul:
(1) Go to www.marysrosary.com to pray the Rosary without confusion. Just pick a day of the week and read!
(2) Pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows to Mary, at this link: www.marysrosary.com/Sorrows.html
(3) And pray a Rosary for Saint Joseph's intercession, at this link: www.marysrosary.com/SJoseph.html