Praying without Words
Jesus on one occasion told His Apostles that they should pray always (Luke 18,1). What did He mean? How is it possible to pray always?
Our Lord meant by those words that we should first of all realise that we are always in the presence of God. He is with us all the time.
Once we realise this, constant prayer becomes a very simple thing. It does not need many words. Indeed it doesn't need any.
The better we know a person the less need we have of words in talking to him. Praying all the time is also referred to as “The practice of the presence of God.” This means sharing our life, our interest, our activities, our thoughts with Him.
This is called the state of prayer, or also known as contemplative prayer. It is a state which can last all our waking hours. Moreover, in this way we learn little by little to look at things in God's way, to judge things from His point of view. Prayer becomes, as it were, the very air we breathe. Our whole life becomes an offering, a prayer to God. This is what Christ meant when He said that we should pray always. Of course we should also try to have some special time each day for verbal prayer. Even if we do not use many words, a few minutes each night to think back on the day and talk to God about it will mean a great deal. Next day we will be better able to put ourselves in the presence of God.
Praying with Words
We can form the habit of prayer without words - simply by raising our mind and heart to God. There are times, however, when we feel the need to put our thoughts and feelings into words. In that case we should talk to God as simply as we talk to anybody. If you read the lives of the Saints, you will find an extraordinary simplicity in their conversations with Almighty God. Sometimes they just say the same thing over and over again. "My God I love you. My God I trust You. My God I believe in You". So a person in love says the same things over and over again to the one he loves. We can talk as much or as little as we please, in any way we please, so long as it is sincere. This is all that God wants. What about using prayer books? Some people find them useful, others don't. We can use them or not, just as we wish. In general, it is true to say that most people can learn a great deal from using a prayer book. There are times when we can't find words to express what is in our heart. The prayers that have been used by friends of God for centuries can then help us to say what we want to say. It is like appreciating poetry. The poet has a gift of saying with insight and penetration the kind of thing that we have vaguely felt but never been able to express. So also formal prayers can nourish the spirit of prayer in us when we use them. After a while phrases and sentences from them become part of ourselves. What began as a borrowed prayer is now a very personal one of our own.
For daily prayer online, visit http://www.pray.com.au/daily-gospel-reflections.html
Labyrinth photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash
14 October 2019