Is it possible to have a conversation with God?

What is a conversation?

The Latin roots of the word “conversation” mean to “live with” and “keep company with” and reveals that a conversation is more than casual talk.   A conversation occurs when people are drawn together in fellowship and move beyond “small talk” to discuss important things; a conversation is “a talk between two or more people in which thoughts, feelings and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered, or news and information is exchanged.”

What is a conversation with God?

A conversation with God is a communion with God through which a man and God speak with each other.  God lives within the baptized man and keeps company with him in fellowship and every Catholic man is created and called to converse with God (CCC 27).

A man’s conversation with God can be understood by reflecting upon a man’s conversation with another dearly loved person. For example, a man speaks with and listens to his wife, discussing what is important and current in their lives through unscripted words and sometimes unspoken words. The topics of their conversation include words of love and admiration, joys and sorrows, apologies for failures and faults and offering and seeking help with personal needs, the mundane and difficult. Healthy and productive discussions between a husband and wife are built on an intimate relationship based on love and trust, are frequent and routine, and include expressing true thoughts and feelings in charity and listening to each other in love.

Likewise, a man’s conversation with God, a Divine Person, is based on building a deep two-way relationship which includes discussions about all the topics of the human mind and heart. The astounding truth is this: You can build a personal relationship with God and speak with Him!

Can an average man have a conversation with God?

Yes. Jesus reveals in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32) that an average man, even a man who has fallen into sin, is loved by God and God desires for every man to be in communion with Him.

Holy Scripture reveals that men across the ages have had personal conversations with God which include two-way discussions with Adam (Gen 3:9-10), Cain (Gen 4:9-15), Noah (Gen 6:13, 7:1, 8:15, Abraham (Gen 18), Moses (Num 12:6-8), Samuel (1 Sam 3), Elijah (1 Kings 19:9-18) and others.

Jesus, the Son of God, enters into the Incarnation and has countless discussions throughout His life on earth and after the Resurrection including with St. Paul (Acts 9:4-6) and St. John (Revelation) and He reveals that He speaks to His men, and they can hear His voice (Jn 10:3-4).

Jesus specifically teaches men to speak to each Person of the Trinity, including the Almighty Father (Mt 6:9-13), the Son (Jn 14:13) and the Holy Spirit Who Jesus sends to teach and guide us (Jn 14:16-17, 26). Jesus reveals man should “ask, seek, and knock” (Lk 11:9-10).

The Holy Catholic Church continues to teach that true Christian prayer is “speaking with God” (CCC 2769) through which a man who has a deep desire to actually speak with God (CCC 2700) can “hear God speaking” (CCC 1777) when he practices vocal prayer (CCC 2701-2704).

God is a Divine Person, He is always with you, and God infinitely desires to speak with you more than you might desire to speak with Him. God will never abandon you even if you abandon Him for a time; God waits for you and is always ready to have a conversation with you.

Is it essential to have a conversation with God?

Yes. It is not only possible to have a conversation with God, but it is essential for a man’s happiness now and in eternity. You don’t need to be a Saint to have a conversation with God and you can’t become a saint if you do not have many conversations with God. Life on earth is a chance to pray and prepare for the eternal conversation with God in the Beatific Vision of Heaven.

Frequently having a conversation with God helps a man:

Build a relationship with God  – Like building a relationship with a loved one requires frequent conversation, a man must enter into a conversation with God to build a relationship with Him (CCC 2558).

Know God’s will and grow in holiness – If a man is to please God, he must know and do God’s will. To know God’s will, a man must enter into conversation with God and hear His will; God is not inclined to speak with souls who do not speak with Him. A man cannot grow in holiness without hearing and responding to God’s word, for without prayer a man is without God.

More fully receive God’s peace and gifts – If a man intends to draw closer to God, his prayers are meritorious, and God will reward him with peace and joy and bless him with many gifts. Conversation with God opens the channel of grace.

Prepare for his salvation – The Saints (Basil, Chrysostom, Augustine) reveal that a man cannot be saved without entering into conversation with God and asking for the graces necessary for salvation. St. Alphonsus Liguori states that “he who prays is certain to be saved; while he who prays not is certain to be damned.” Final perseverance in death is not a single grace but is a chain of graces which correspond to a man’s prayers; a man who ceases to draw close to God in conversation ceases to receive God’s help.

What is a REAL conversation with God?

Are there different ways to have a conversation with God?

Yes. The Church describes various expressions of prayer that draw a man into conversation with God, including Vocal, Meditative and Contemplative prayer (CCC 2699); each of these are conversations with God because God is always present, listening and responding to a man’s prayer (Mt 7:7-11; Jn 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-24).

Men can become intimidated and discouraged about having a conversation with God because the Church, in her wisdom, describes many types of prayers, some of which are sophisticated and can be beyond the reach of the average man.

What is meant by a REAL conversation with God?

The word “real” comes from a Latin word that means “actual.” What is meant by a “real conversation” is an “actual conversation”, like when a man speaks and listens to another person; a real conversation is something the average man experiences every day and that same type of real conversation with God is both possible and essential.

A “real” conversation with God is when a man comes into the presence of God, speaks to God about what is on his heart and listens and hears God speaking to him. This conversation is a type of Vocal Prayer in which a man speaks words either out loud or silently in the mind and heart.

 “Vocal” prayer is practiced by all Catholics because it is taught through memorized prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary, Rosary) and is used in the Liturgy. But men sometimes struggle to progress from simply “saying the words” of scripted Vocal Prayers to having a “real conversation” with God in which a man speaks his own words from his heart to God and actively listens to hear God’s response.

Is there a structure for having a real conversation with God?

Yes. Various saints and writers have described different things that a man can and should say to God and what a helpful structure for having a discussion with God includes.

It can be helpful to consider a simple 4-Part structure for a “real conversation” with God:

Part 1 – Starting a conversation with God, including acknowledging the Divine Person a man is speaking with, offering praise and glory to God, thanking God for a man’s many blessings, and confessing and apologizing to God with a contrite heart.

Parț 2 – Asking for God’s help by making petitions for others and himself.

Part 3 – Listening for God’s response by asking for Him to respond and quietly and patiently listening.

Part 4 – Completing the conversation with God by thanking God and asking for His continual protection and help.

What mindset helps to have a real conversation with God?

Approach God with the greatest awe and the deepest respect

Jesus reveals in the first Beatitude men must be “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3), a realization that God has Divine Knowledge and Divine Power, and every man is simply a created being who depends on God for everything. For the baptized in a state of grace, the Holy Spirit gives every Catholic man the Gift of the Fear of the Lord, a grace which fills a man with reverence, a recognition he is in desperate need of God to save Him and an enduring desire to never be separated from God by sin.  A man should have the simple awe of God like a child (Mt 18:3; Mk 10:1).

As Jesus perfectly demonstrates in His deference to the Almighty Father, God is to be highly honored, consistent with the 4th Commandment (“Honor thy father and mother”).

To reinforce the need to have a mindset of giving God the highest honor, Jesus frequently refers to Himself as King (Lk 14:15-24), Master (Mt 6:24, 10:23, 23:10; Jn 13:16, 15:20), Lord (Jn 13:14-15) and men as lowly slaves/servants (Mt 18:23-35; Mk 13:34-37).

Consider if you were able to approach the greatest man ever born and receive his wisdom and blessing. God is infinitely greater than the greatest of men He has created. In prayer, you can be in direct conversation with the Infinite God and receive His wisdom and blessing.

Every conversation with God, Who has infinite wisdom and power, can help a man grow in holiness, receive the blessing of the Beatific Vision and avoid the eternal agony of Hell. Every conversation with God is a milestone on a man’s journey towards Heaven and his eternal destiny is being worked out with God.

Approach God confident in His love

God is the perfect Father who loves every Catholic man like a beloved son and desires for every man to receive true and lasting happiness during his life and in the eternal beatitude of Heaven.

Recall that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn 3:16) to die on a Cross so that you might be saved.

Jesus describes God’s love for you in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32) which reveals the Almighty Father has infinite mercy and welcomes back those who repent from sin. Be confident, that like the Prodigal’s father, God loves you and longs for you to return to Him; God desires to speak with you infinitely more than you will ever desire to speak with him. 

Approach God with love

Building upon just servile fear and the perfect love of God for you, be filled with a reciprocal love for God.  St. Teresa of Avila reveals that “the progress of a soul does not consist of thinking much of God, but in loving Him ardently.” It is in profound love of God that your prayer will become a joy and not a burden and yield life-saving blessings.

As a beloved son who is perfectly loved by God, a man should be filled with love for God who loves him, forgives him of his sins and welcomes him every time he returns to Him.

Approach God with humility

Every man is a desperate sinner in need to be saved by God. As Jesus teaches in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:9-14), every man needs to approach God with humility and a recognition and deep sorrow for his sins. St. Thomas Aquinas reminds that the whole edifice of prayer is built on the foundation of Humility.

Approach God with deep contrition for sin

Every man is full of sins, some of which he is aware and some which he is unaware, and none of which he can free himself without the grace of God.  The full extent of the grave damage of a man’s sins to himself and others is known only to God and is significantly greater than a man recognizes.

Because of the terrible breadth and depth of a man’s sins, he should be filled with deep contrition (meaning, grief and sorrow) for his sins; when a man approaches God, he should have as clear of an understanding as possible of his current sins through a thorough Examination of Conscience (CCC 1451-1454).

Jesus reveals the infinite love of God for those who return to Him in deep contrition in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. St. Alphonsus Liguori confirms God loves a man who is truly sorrowful for his sins and that an “…act of contrition is the golden chain that binds the soul to God.”

Approach God to seek to know and do His Will

Jesus proclaims and demonstrates that He has come to do God’s Will (Lk 22:42; Jn 4:34, 5:30, 6:38, 8:29; Heb 10:7) and Jesus deliberately teaches men the Our Father which calls men to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Mt 6:10).

God desires for every man to be saved and God alone in His Perfect Will knows how to help each man in his particular circumstances come to salvation.; the only way a man can come to salvation is to seek to hear God’s will in prayer and petition God to help him do God’s will (CCC 2822-2827).

Approach God with confidence He will help have a real conversation with Him

God will help every man who approaches him with the graces through the Holy Spirit necessary to have a conversation with Him in prayer.

St. Paul confirms: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom 8:26-27).

What are four parts of a real conversation with God?

Here is one approach to understanding the parts of a conversation with God: 1) Starting the conversation with God; 2) Asking God for help, 3) Listening for God’s answer, and 4) Completing the conversation with God.

Part 1 – How should a man start a real conversation with God?

Prepare to have a conversation with God – Just like a man makes an appointment to have a serious conversation with someone important, it is a good practice to set some time every day to have a regular conversation with God. Setting a specific time in advance helps build and keep the commitment to have a real conversation with God; put it on your calendar.

To begin to build a habit of having a “sit-down” conversation with God every day, start perhaps with 15 minutes; this amount of time allows for a good conversation and is not overwhelming for most men. Over time, God will lead you to how much time to spend in conversation with Him.

Imitate Jesus and pray in the early morning hours (Mk 1:35). While Jesus prays during the day (Lk 5:16, 9:16. 10:21, Jn 11:41-42), in the evenings (Mt 14:23, 26:20; Mk 6:46-47) and even all night (Lk 6:12), mornings are an excellent time for most men to pray because it is quiet and peaceful, and the cares of the day have not weighed down upon them yet.

As you begin to speak with God, tune in, clear all other things out of your mind. Turn off all devices and put them away. As Jesus counsels (Mt 6:6), find a quiet place where you can have an intimate conversation with God and give Him your full attention. When possible, draw close in adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist at your parish to have a conversation with Him.

Enter into the reality of His Presence deliberately, with the conscious thought that at this moment, you are literally meeting God to have a real conversation with Him about your life and destiny.

Begin the conversation with the Sign of the Cross – Every time a man enters into conversation with God, he is called to make the Sign of the Cross (CCC 2166) for it confirms a man is praying to and with the Almighty Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Sign of the Cross is a symbol of faith and a protection against the Evil One.

Acknowledge the Divine Person(s) of the conversation Just like a conversation with a human person starts with a “hello”, when a man begins a conversation with God, it can be helpful to acknowledge if he is specifically speaking to all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity or perhaps one of the Persons specifically (the Almighty Father, Jesus the Son of God, or the Holy Spirit).

Express faith and love of God – Make an Act of Faith and express your love for God, using your own words or short prayers from common prayer books. For example, St. Alphonsus Liguori suggests:

My God, I believe that You are here present, and I adore You with my whole soul!

Give God praise and glory – Like Jesus teaches men to “hallow” the name of the Almighty Father in the Our Father (Mt 6:9), offering praise and glory to God is necessary in prayer (CCC 2639-2643).

To help think about how to give God praise and glory, consider how you speak with someone when you are showing your appreciation of them: you compliment and praise their wisdom, talents, virtues, and acts, especially as to how the person blesses you. In the same way, you can be led by the Spirit to speak of your appreciation for the greatness of God with words of praise and glory.

A man can praise God in his own words or use any of the praises of God found in common prayer books. For example:

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts; the heavens and earth are full of Thy Glory.”

“We adore you O Christ and we bless You, because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.”

Thank God for His countless blessings – Offering heartfelt thanks to God for His many blessings is essential in a man’s prayer (CCC 2637-2638). Jesus offers the Almighty Father thanks many times, including at the Feeding of the 5000 (Jn 6:11), the raising of Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:41) and at the institution of the Holy Eucharist (literally means “Thanksgiving”) at the Last Supper (Lk 22:19; Mt 26:27). Our Blessed Mother offers a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving to God in her Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55; CCC 2619). St. Paul confirms men are to give thanks to God always in all circumstances (1 These 5:8; Col 4:2).

Just as you would thank another person who has done you many great favors, speak directly to God and give Him thanks for His astounding blessings, focusing on the blessings which the Holy Spirit brings into your mind. Express your personal thanks directly to God in your own words, said with the deepest heart-felt gratitude.

Consider thanking God for: Creation, natural beauty, your life, breath and health, knowledge of Him, the Church, the gift of faith, being a Catholic man, your wife or girlfriend, family, children, talents, material goods, freedom, and your country. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be moved to gratitude and you will be filled with overflowing thankfulness for countless small and large blessings from God.

Thankfulness is a powerful way to help a man grow closer to God because it helps a man be awed by God’s divine power and wisdom, fills a man with joy, leads a man to love God more and increases a man’s sorrow for the sins which separate him from God. If you ever become “stuck in prayer” or discouraged in life, the simple act of starting to thank God will open up a great channel of grace from Him; thank Him and He will bless you.

Express sorrow for sin and ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness – Jesus underscores the necessity of confessing sins and begging for forgiveness from God in the Our Father (Mt 6:12; CCC 2839-2841) and in the Parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee, when the Tax Collector says, “Be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk 18:13).

God does not want you to repent because He doesn’t know the sins you’ve committed; He knows your sins better than you do. God wants you to repent and confess your sins to remove the sins which are a barrier to receiving His Grace. Just like a man must admit when he has done wrong and apologize to his wife before they can be reconciled, so too must a man apologize to God and be reconciled.

Drawing upon an Examination of Conscience or simply recalling the sins which are currently on your heart, be filled with sorrow for your sins and tell God how sorry you are, noting how your sin has harmed your relationship with God and hurt others. Then, commit to do your best with God’s grace to not sin again and throw yourself on the mercy of God and beg for His forgiveness.

Pay special attention to the sin of failing to forgive others and reconcile with those you have harmed. Forgive and reconcile with others either immediately or as soon as possible, as Jesus specifically commands (Mt 5:22-24, 6:14; Mk 11:25).

If you have perfect contrition (sorrow for sins out of love for God) for your sins, know your venial sins are forgiven and mortal sins are also forgiven if a man has a firm resolution to receive the Sacrament of Penance as soon as possible (CCC 1452). If you have only imperfect contrition (sorrow and fear of God’s just punishment), mortal sins are not forgiven until a man confesses those sins in the Sacrament of Penance (CCC 1453). If you commit a mortal sin, confess it and receive the Sacrament of Penance immediately.

Part 2 – How should a man ask for God’s help?

Be confident God will answer prayers according to His Will – A man prays not to make God aware of the help that he needs for God knows every need already (Mt 6:8), but so that a man can realize his need for God and to ask God for help.

Jesus, speaking on behalf of the Blessed Trinity, promises God desires for men to have the good things they and others need and answers prayers (Mt 7:9-11; Jn 14:14; Phil 4:19).

Know that God will answer your prayers, even if you have fallen far away. St. Thomas Aquinas confirms that it “is not necessary that the man who prays should merit the grace for which he asks. By prayer we obtain even those things which we do not deserve.”

Ask for necessary good things and things necessary for salvation God promises to answer prayers for a man’s material/temporal necessities and for his salvation and the salvation of others. Anything that is licit to have is licit to pray for; anything that is sinful is not licit to pray for and God will not answer any prayer that causes a man to fall into sin.

Necessities are things necessary for survival; a man may also ask for other good gifts from God but should always humbly add the prayer be answered if it be in accord with God’s will.

God especially desires for a man to pray for the graces necessary for his own salvation and the salvation of others; for example, a man can pray for grace, to be delivered from sin and evil, for virtues, for faith, hope and charity, a good death and to be judged as suitable for Heaven. 

Start with petitions for God to help others – God calls every man to love Him and a man’s neighbors and praying for neighbors is a great act of charity. In the parable of The Good Samaritan, Jesus reveals a man’s neighbors are those he encounters, even if they appear to be strangers (Lk 10:25-37).

In His providence, God places “neighbors”, those who dwell nearby, into the life of a man and the closest neighbors to a man are his family and friends. A man’s prayers should start with prayers for his family and his friends; included in prayers for family, a man should pray for his brothers and sisters in Christ in his parish, including his priests, deacons and religious.

Moving outward from a man’s close circle, a man should also ask God to guide and strengthen His Holy Catholic Church and for God to convert the hearts and minds of those in his city and country and elsewhere around the world.

Pray for the salvation of others in Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church and for God to ease the suffering (Jam 5:16) of the sick, poor, the hungry, the tormented, the depressed and the persecuted. Pray for others to be reconciled with Christ and with others so they may be at peace and grow in holiness.

Pray especially for those who persecute you and your loved ones (Mt 5:44).

Ask for spiritual and worldly necessities for yourself – After praying for others, ask God for help in your life, focusing first on your spiritual life and then on your worldly necessities. Anything you struggle with, you can give to God to resolve. This is not unmanly abdication, but it is a recognition of God’s authority and His superior knowledge and power. 

Imagine you suddenly have the ability to see and hear God in your daily life with your senses; not only would you be filled with overwhelming awe and joy, but you would also be more able to know and do God’s will. To do God’s will more consistently requires a man to be consciously aware of God’s presence more often so he can hear and seek the grace to do God’s will. Pray therefore for God to help you be more aware of His presence and to better understand His will.

Ask God for His grace to do His will during the remainder of your day. Seek His guidance and help to choose and take action to serve Him in your appointed station in life.

Ask the Spirit for help to battle against temptation and for the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit so you can grow in heroic virtue.

Pray especially to be delivered from the soul-killing effects of much modern media and for the grace to abstain or drastically limit corrupting entertainment, social and information media; reducing media consumption will dramatically reduce the near occasion of sin and make a man’s spiritual combat easier.

Given the pervasiveness of pornography in all its various forms, always pray for God to deliver you from both exposure to any and all types of pornography and the grace to resist and reject any temptation to view or think about pornography. Never cease to pray for deliverance from pornography, for even if God has currently graced you to be free of the effects of pornography, know that Satan is even now plotting to ambush you soon.

Pray that you can be a more effective spiritual father who leads your family, friends, and many others to become children of God.

Turning to your life as a man in the world, ask God for relief from mental, emotional, and physical suffering if it be in accordance with His perfect will and for the fortitude to bear the suffering He allows you to experience. There is great spiritual fruit hidden in suffering, for it is the Cross. Ask God to give you the knowledge and understanding to find meaning in unavoidable suffering.

Give God thanks for any and all suffering you are called to endure and for the strength to endure it. Jesus promises to help every man who turns to Him to carry his burden and refresh him (Mt 11:28). God does not want you to suffer needlessly and will come to your rescue if you but humbly ask for His help.

In addition to praying for spiritual necessities, pray for those material necessities which you believe you currently need in life, including safety, shelter, food and other essentials. Jesus reveals God desires to give men the things that they need (Mt 6:25-33).

Realize God may not answer a prayer in the way a man desires – Do not be discouraged if it seems God isn’t answering your prayers. There are many reasons why God’s response to a man’s prayer may not be obvious to him.

God’s ways are in all ways superior to a man’s ways (Isa 55:8-9) and God answers prayers in a way which is best for a man’s salvation. While a man needs to have faith and confidence in God without the need to understand everything, there are good reasons why God’s answers to a man’s prayer may not be in the way a man thinks his prayers might be best answered. For example:

God may choose to not remove a temptation a man asks to be freed from so the man can grow in dependence on God or in the virtue of fortitude.

God considers His plan for a man’s whole life and His timing and sequence of how He answers a man’s prayers do not necessarily conform to a man’s urgent focus on his own here and now.

God may choose not to answer a prayer which is for something which a man thinks is good and necessary but would be destructive to the man’s spiritual life.

What a man thinks is a temporal necessity may not be a necessity according to God’s will.

Part 3 – Listening for God’s answer

Stop talking and choose to listen – A conversation is not a single person talking only to himself but a discussion between two people. After you have had your chance to speak your heart to God, give God the chance to give His Sacred Heart to you.

Think if you had the chance to meet the smartest person in the world. Would you do all the talking? A wise man listens to the wisdom of others and God is Divine Wisdom. Spend a good portion of your time in conversation with God listening for His response.

Deliberately ask for God to speak – Because God responds to prayer, specifically ask God to speak to you and ask Him for the grace for you to be able to listen and understand what He wants to say to you. Use your own words or consider Samuel’s response to God: “Speak Lord, for your servant hears” (1 Sam 3:10).

Patiently listen for and to God’s responseAs in any conversation, there are pauses and a man must become comfortable with silences during his conversations with God. Fight the temptation to continue speaking, allow your mind wander or anticipate God’s answer if you can’t immediately hear God’s response. Simply dwell in the presence of God and wait patiently to hear the still small voice of God (1 Kings 19:12).

God speaks in ways which are not always heard as “words” – God may speak to you in “audible” words which He allows you to hear in your mind.

Do not become discouraged if you do not hear clear words.  God may speak through ideas, images, and impulses which He places into your mind. Listen carefully and ask God to help you understand what He is saying to you in whatever way He chooses to speak.

Confirm what God has said – After you perceive God has responded and you have some specific clarity or comfort, confirm that you are hearing God correctly. Just like in a conversation with any other person, it is useful to confirm what you have heard and then wait for God to reconfirm His guidance. Use your own words, saying something like, “God, I think I heard You tell me _____. Did I hear correctly? If not, please help me hear and understand Your will.”

Continue listening after formal prayer Realize that God may delay responding to you during your “formal conversation” and offer you answers in the thoughts and experiences which you have in the coming day or days. God often answers prayers without words and when you recognize that God has answered a prayer, immediately give Him great praise and thanksgiving.

Part 4 – Completing the conversation with God

Thank God for having a conversation – Just as you would end a conversation with a great man who graciously agreed to meet with you with words of gratitude, thank Almighty God at the end of your real conversation with Him for allowing you to be in His presence and for any blessings He has given you.

Make a resolution to take one concrete act to grow in holiness – Because God has graciously spent time with you and heard your prayers, show Him your appreciation by making a resolution to take one holy act during the day.

There are many types of acts you might take: to pray again at a certain hour, to attend Mass or go to Adoration; to read Scripture; to mortify cravings and abstain from some food or activity; to make an act of charity towards another; to practice some needed virtue (e.g., to be patient with your wife).

Start small and be specific about the one holy act you are committing to do during the day (e.g., not to watch any media for the balance of the day); this makes you accountable and helps ensure you will make at least one concrete step in holiness.

In making the resolution, ask God to give you the grace to successfully carry it out.

Pray for the intercession of the Saints and your Guardian Angel – Ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and any of your patron saints to intercede to God on your behalf. Ask your Guardian Angel to watch over you.

Make a final prayer to remain in the presence of God – If a man is to do God’s will throughout the day, it is essential to strive to remain in the presence of God. Ask God to help you remember that He is always present and to remind you many times throughout the day to turn to Him in thanksgiving and for advice.

Afterwards, make notes about the conversation with God – It can be helpful to take notes in a prayer journal after conversations with God for a number of reasons. Writing down notes can: help to clarify and remember the guidance God is giving you; help you go further in self-reflection about things to focus upon in the spiritual combat; provide a helpful record of your struggles and growth of your relationship with God over time; keeping a journal becomes a habit that can help motivate a man to continue and expand his prayer life with God.

How can a man overcome difficulties in a real conversation with God?

What if I have a hard time getting started?

Just like it is sometimes awkward to have a conversation with someone you haven’t had a deep conversation with before, sometimes, a man can find it awkward to start to have a real conversation with God in the beginning.

To get the conversation going, just be yourself and tell God what you are thinking. Just be honest and direct. Tell God you are feeling awkward and ask Him to help you get going.

What if I forget the “process” of having a real conversation with God

The process described is simply a guide to having a conversation with God that can be helpful in enriching your conversation with God. It is not mandatory; take what works for you. At any time, just speak to God and ask Him to help you to have a conversation with Him; He will help you!

What if I get distracted during prayer?

You are not alone!  It is not unusual for a man to become distracted when he attempts to draw close to God (CCC 2729) and prayer can become empty experiences of ritual words and postures (CCC 2726). Distraction can come in all kinds of forms: sorrows, confusion, imaginings, focusing on a man’s faults and failure, intrusions from a man’s environment, etc.

Distraction can come from a man’s lack of discipline to focus his attention on God and distraction can be encouraged by Satan. The devil hates it when a man draws close to God and the devil does his best to lure a man into distraction and discouragement.

Do not become discouraged by any distraction or deterred by any difficulty in prayer; prayer is meritorious if a man’s intent is to draw close to God, even when he later gets distracted during his prayer. God loves it when a man is intent to draw close to Him.

How can I fight against being distracted?

St. Alphonsus Liguori suggests when a man becomes distracted, he should simply say a prayer and ask for God’s help. For example: “My Jesus, mercy. Lord, for the sake of Your mercy, assist me.”

One approach to help remain focused during a conversation with God is to actually speak the words with your mouth, either softly or silently. Engaging the mouth can help fight off distraction because it is harder for the mind to wander when speaking.

Another approach used by many saints is to use a spiritual journal and write down what a man says to God in a real conversation and what he hears God reply. Consider how you are able to concentrate when you write a letter or email to another; writing helps focus attention.

What if I have difficulty expressing myself?

Consider a father who listens as his small son begins to learn to speak. The father is joyful and patient as he listens to his son’s early words, even when they are mispronounced or out of order, or when the child becomes distracted; a loving father simply calls his son back and continues to teach him to speak.  God joyfully listens to his sons and patiently calls men back from distraction and teaches them to pray (Rom 8:26-27).

What if I run out of things to say?

Sometimes a man can be at a loss of words before the time he has set aside to speak with God is up. Like any conversation, sometimes a man can run out of things to say.

Do not become discouraged or quit early. You have been blessed to be moved by God to set aside time to have a real conversation with Him. Rather than retreat, simply tell God you have run out of things to say and then listen!  God will respond, even if there seems to be silence. If you experience dryness or aridness, hold to your allotted time and be patient and wait, having faith that God is doing something marvelous in the silence and will reward you for your perseverance.

What should I do if I can’t hear God’s response?

Many saints, perhaps all saints, struggle through periods when they cannot clearly perceive God’s response to their prayers. It is not unusual to have periods of what the saints call aridity or dryness in prayer.

While God’s ways are often mysterious, He always has a reason for when His voice is not clearly heard by those who pray. St. John of the Cross, the great Catholic mystic who recorded his studies of the interior life called this kind of experience, “the Dark Night of the Soul.” The “dark night” can happen for a soul so the soul grows in hunger for God without the consolations of hearing God’s voice so the soul may love God for His sake and not for the comforts God gives.

When you can’t hear God’s response, heroically persevere in faith and love, obediently accepting God’s will and continuously giving Him praise, glory and thanks, confident in the reality that God is loving you throughout your trials on the path to holiness and Heaven.

What if I get confused about what God is calling me to do?

God will never call you to do something that would harm you or others, nor will God ask you to do something which He is not prepared to help you do. Be patient and bring the topic up with God again and ask for Him to clarify things for you. If your confusion persists, speak with your priest and he will help you discern how to proceed.

What if I miss an “appointment with God” or miss a day?

Almost everyone misses a set time to pray due to overwhelming schedules or forgetfulness. If you miss your regular prayer time, make it up during the day. If time or a situation does not allow you to set aside time, make a short prayer to God in your own words or by saying an Our Father, a Glory Be or a Hail Mary. If you miss a day, begin again the next day; a general rule is to never miss two days in a row.