A Simple Prayer Format
Too often we (or at least I) try to complicate matters when really just something simple will work well. For this reason, I've listed a simple format with a foundation from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The main objective is to be still, place oneself into the mediation, and thus allow for listening and dialogue. Here are the steps with some commentary that follows.
Be Still - Slow down, take a few deep breaths, relax and take to heart those words in Psalm 46:10 - Be Still and Know that I am God.
Read - Either the mediation on this site or any other one.
Consider It - In the words of one wise Priest, he says to "chew on it." Think of the first bite of a delicious meal and how one would savor the taste of a great plate of lasagna, or a juicy steak, or cold Coca Cola on a hot day. Got the picture! Also, place yourself in the scene, literally. What are your senses telling you. It is hot, cold, dusty, any smells, etc.
Listen - The first three steps have placed you in a position to succeed at this step. I know that at the beginning, my mind is racing and is full of clutter, sort of like the fuzzy screen on your television when your cable goes out. By doing the first three steps, I find that the clutter fades away and the door is open to listening.
Dialogue - Your mind is at ease and you have greater clarity of God's voice. Don't go with an agenda. You wouldn't meet a friend for coffee and say that first we are going to discuss sports, then politics, then business, etc. Rather, just let it flow. Go in with an open agenda. Just be with God and dialogue like you would with a trusted friend over coffee.
Close with Praise and Thanksgiving - A spirit of gratitude guides us to more fully see the important things of this world via God's eyes.
At the end of the day - Daily Examination of Conscience
St. Ignatius considered this as the most important spiritual exercise. Basically, at the end of the day, take a few moments to relax your mind and reflect of the day. What were your joys, trials, experiences, etc.? If one sticks with you, then drill down and meditate on the experience or circumstance. Offer it up in prayer and then close with gratitude. Simple but very effective.