September 15, 2019
In my homily last week, I talked about a method of prayer that I learned while I was on my 30-Day Ignatian Retreat. It’s called the A.R.R.R. Prayer: Acknowledge, Relate, Receive and Respond. Some of you asked that I share more about how this prayer works.
As we move through our day, different things are getting stirred up in hearts as we respond to the people and situations we find ourselves in. The first step is to Acknowledge what is being stirred up in us: the good, the bad and the ugly. Maybe I’ve had a chance to grab coffee with an old friend and we’ve had a good conversation. In this case, my heart is being stirred with gratitude, affection, etc. Conversely, maybe I’m at school or work and my project is falling apart or someone I’ve counted on has let me down. This leads me to feel angry, resentful, overwhelmed. Or maybe, as I go about my day, for no apparent reason at all, I find myself feeling tempted towards envy, greed, lust, etc. The important thing is to acknowledge these movements as they come up. Don’t ignore them or try to push them away. These are important movements that are having an effect on you and how you interact with others.
Once we acknowledge what we’re feeling, Relate those feelings to God. Give thanks to God for your friend and the relationships that sustain you. Or let him know when you’re feeling angry and frustrated. Why carry that burden by yourself? What good could possibly come from sitting on anger or resentment? Give it to God who tells us, “come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will give you rest!” Sharing our frustrations with God, who loves us, will help us to better manage our work, our emotions and our relationships. And even when I have ugly movements inside of me like lust, envy or pride, I don’t need to hide those things from God. I can let him know that I don’t like having these thoughts and that I need his help to overcome these temptations.
Whenever we open our hearts to God, we always Receive his grace in return. God will always help us to overcome our temptations and to reject the impulses that lead to sin. That’s why St. Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When we have finished sharing our hearts with God we Respond to God with gratitude, trusting that he has heard our prayers and will respond with the graces and blessings we need to continue on the path of discipleship. As God tells the prophet Isaiah, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I encourage you to put this A.R.R.R. Prayer into practice in your own lives. Pay attention to those prominent movements getting stirred up in your hearts as you move through your day. Acknowledge it and relate all of it to the God who loves you. And the peace of God will always be with you.