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How Do I Know If I’m Praying Reverently?

In this podcast, a listener named Jesús calls into the show and asks: “How do I know if I’m praying reverently?” Jesús explains that he sometimes gets distracted in prayer and feels like he’s not praying the way that he should.

Father Dave encourages Jesús and says that his prayer does count. He explains that we are the only ones who can tell if our prayer is reverent. Father Dave gives the example of people visually looking as if they are praying reverently: “If you witness people praying, encountering God in different cultures and places around the world, reverence comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes.”

Father Dave says that these days in North America, we tend to have one restricted view of what reverence looks like. He says that reverence is not the absence of joy, and it is not the same thing as being somber. “One can be reverent with a smile on their face.”

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“I would define reverent as, ‘Is your heart in it?’ I think you can look at somebody three pews away, and outwardly they may look like they have all the right visual cues: eyes are closed, hands are clasped, they’re on their knees. And this is certainly not a matter of judging somebody else, but none of us know what is going on in their heart. They may be thinking about tonight’s recipe. Whereas somebody you may pass by and look at judgmentally and think they are not reverent, they may be more connected to God in their heart.”

“If you’re asking me, ‘How do I know?’ If you believe it. If you want to be there, you’re not just going through the motions. You’re not just thinking that this is something that is required of you and you’re not being superstitious, and you are doing this for your relationship with God if that is your goal, and even if a distraction happens, then that is my definition of reverence. You are doing it with your heart. You are doing it for the right reason.” (Original Air 11-29-17)