Columnists Mark my words

Column: Know when you gotta pray

by Fr. Mark Goldasich

What do you think of when you see ACTS?

If you’ve been in this archdiocese for any length of time, your first response might be that ACTS is an acronym for the Archbishop’s Call to Share. And you’d be correct.

For me, however, it’s not only an acronym, but also a mnemonic device helping me remember some different styles of prayer. Here’s what the letters stand for:

  • “A” means adoration, simply being in the presence of God and savoring that friendship. Many times, no words are needed.
  • “C” stands for contrition, where we express sorrow for the sins we’ve committed or for the good actions that we’ve neglected to do.
  • “T” is for thanksgiving, where we humbly acknowledge all of the blessings that God has sent our way.
  • “S” stands for supplication, where we bring our own needs and those of others to the Lord.

It’s this last way to pray that I’d like to concentrate on here. About a month ago, I sent a Facebook message to a friend in Texas, who served as a godmother at a baptism I celebrated. I asked for her prayers for my mom who was in the hospital at the time. In her reply, she promised to pray and wrote: “Have you heard of the prayer app Echo? It’s pretty neat if you want to check it out.”

Well, check it out I did. And I’ve been using it faithfully ever since. Although I always take it seriously when someone asks me to pray for them or an intention, sometimes the request slips through the cracks in my mind. To cover the bases when this happens, I regularly pray, “For all of the people and the intentions I promised to remember.” But that generic prayer is so impersonal.

That’s why I like to write things down. This is something that my mom has done for years. And once you’re on her prayer list, you’re there for good. The list has gotten longer and longer . . . as has her prayer time. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

I used to keep a handwritten prayer list on my kitchen table, but sometimes that list would get moved or buried under other things and forgotten. With Echo, that’s no longer a problem.

Since most of us are tied to our smartphones anyway, Echo is a way to integrate a spiritual element alongside all of the checking that we do for news, tweets, texts, games, etc. By the way, Echo is free and available for both Apple and Android devices.

The app is attractive and easy to use. When I get a prayer request, I tap the “Add A Prayer” button. A screen pops up asking for a prayer title (“What do you want to pray for?”). Here I put in the name of the person. Underneath is a space to describe what you’re praying for with regard to this person.

And now comes the neat part: You can set a reminder in the app to alert you to pray. I have a reminder for each of the people on my list. There’s a lot of flexibility here: to pray every day, every week, every month, etc. You can also specify at what time of day to pray and for how long, from 10 seconds to an hour. For example, at 6 a.m. every morning, my iPhone chimes three times and shows the names of three people I’ve promised to pray for. At 6:30 a.m., two more names pop up, followed by another at noon and one more at 3 p.m. That means that throughout the day, I take a break from what I’m doing to spend a few moments bringing others and their needs before the Lord.

Naturally, you can delete old prayers or even mark them as answered. All in all, Echo is a fantastic way to put St. Paul’s words into practice: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes 5: 16-18).

This app’s name — Echo — captures what prayer is meant to do: resound our needs before the Lord — not only from one heart, but from many.

But what if you don’t have a smartphone for Echo? Well, you’ll just need to do things, like my mom, the old-fashioned way and pray with paper and pen. And that’s perfectly fine.

Hey, my 12:30 p.m. chime just sounded. Excuse me, I’ve gotta go pray!

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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