‘The pirate’s way to pray’: A simple hack for communicating with God

man praying in catholic church
There is no one “right” way to pray. But here’s a simple acronym to help you enter into contemplative time with Christ.

Many devout Catholics have been there. You’re in the adoration chapel for your weekly holy hour or up around dawn for morning prayers before the kids wake up.

“OK, now what do I do?”

Because God’s Holy Spirit is always present, prayer isn’t so much about what actions a believer takes but more about how he or she becomes disposed to receive the gifts and graces God freely offers.

There is no one “right” way to do this. There’s no algorithm or formula for a perfect conversation with Christ.

But there’s a method taught at the The Saint Paul Seminary and the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska that many Catholics — lay and ordained — have found fruitful in recent years. Affectionately referred to as “the pirate’s way to pray” due to its ARRR acronym, this approach offers a structured yet personal framework for spending quality time with the Lord.

In this article, we’ll delve into the steps of ARRR — acknowledge, relate, receive, and respond — and explore how this method might help you enhance your prayer life.


Acknowledge: Creating space for the sacred

To embark on a meaningful prayer journey, it’s crucial to set the stage by acknowledging God’s presence and ridding ourselves of distractions. This step involves finding a quiet and tranquil space, free from the buzzing of notifications and the chaos of daily life. Whether you choose the comfort of your home, the solitude of your car, or the serenity of an adoration chapel, this setting will allow you to focus your mind and heart on connecting with Christ. Starting with some deep breaths and saying a decade or even a whole Rosary can further center your thoughts and prepare you for a more profound encounter with God.


Relate: An honest conversation

The second step, relate, involves a candid conversation with God. This is a moment to share everything — your joys, struggles, excitement, anger, sadness and wounds. Just like a close friend listens attentively, God is there to hear every word you pour out. Of course, the Lord already knows everything you’re going through. But by laying bare your emotions and experiences, you create a foundation for a deeper connection with Him.


Receive: Listen with an open heart

Receiving involves opening your heart and mind to listen to God’s voice. While pouring out your thoughts and feelings creates the space for God to respond. Often, this response might be a subtle feeling, an idea, or an unexpected revelation. Either way, by cultivating a receptive heart, you allow yourself to be attuned to the signs and messages that God may offer, guiding you on your spiritual journey.


Respond: Now is the time to act

The final step, respond, calls for a commitment to act based on the insights and inspirations received during prayer. This action can range from simple gestures, like offering a kind word to someone in need, to more profound decisions, such as making amends or changing a harmful behavior. By aligning your actions with the divine guidance you’ve received, you manifest your commitment to your faith and demonstrate the transformative power of prayer in your daily life.


One hour or just 5 minutes

We of course heartily endorse signing up for a weekly holy hour at your local adoration chapel. There’s no better place to encounter Christ and the peace that only he can give.

But you don’t need to be in front of a monstrance to use ARRR. And if five minutes is all you have, God can work with that.

Even simply going through the first step and recalling you’re in God’s presence throughout the day can be a game changer. Remember, prayer isn’t something you owe Him; it’s opening up yourself to the love of a caring, compassionate Father.

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