Friday, February 8, 2013
One of the things that can stop us praying is that we swallow the idea that there is a special time and place and manner for prayer and that only at that place, time and manner can one pray. yet God is everywhere and ever ready to attend to us. Indeed we are ever the object of His love and mercy. Prayer then is a response to God's outreach to us. Prayer, like existence itself, is His gift to us. God wishes to hear us and answer our prayers with blessings. We are to be like the flowers that lift up their heads to the sun at every moment of the day, whatever the weather or wherever we are. To that end there are many ways to pray and while we ought to have a special place, time and manner of regular prayer each day that does not mean we cannot pray at another times, in other ways and places. After all, just because I eat my dinner in the evening does not mean I cannot eat at lunchtime or snack in-between.
START WELL AND END WELL:
Begin the day with prayer and end it with prayer, even short ones. Try to begin each activity likewise. Cultivate your spiritual life and keep at it. No garden ever becomes truly weed free. There is constant need to return to the basics: weeding, pruning, tending and feeding. Be attentive to the interior garden and it will bear fruit in good time.
FEED THE INNER MAN:
No interior life will flourish if we do not feed it with the proper food. Above all there is the Sacramental life of the Church. Celebrate the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist often. Live from and for the Mass and do not leave Confession off until you have a long list! But also read the scriptures especially with the Church: follow the readings as they occur in the Liturgy. Read good spiritual books especially those by saints and put them into practise wisely.
(i) Meditative walking: this involves strolling along but not attending to one's surroundings but to one's heart. In Zen buddhism they use a very slow pace which allows stillness - we can use a similar method but turn our heart and mind to the God who walks with us and gives us each step, each breath, each heartbeat.
(ii) Alternatively if it also happens to be a walk for fitness one can use the rosary or some other repetitive prayer and 'walk with Mary' through the mysteries. One can also use music and listen to Christian music to turn your attention to divine things.
PRAYER IN THE MIDST OF THINGS:
(i) Once one could call these 'ejaculations' but the drift of language has given this word an entirely different emphasis. Short prayers are invaluable. Whether our own or composed by others, whether we stop to say them or say them in the midst of our actions as long as we lift up our heart and mind to God calling down His help then it is prayer. They help us sanctify the day. The Irish of old had prayers for all sorts of jobs and thus brought their faith into their daily lives.
(ii) Being mindful of and turning to the intercession of those saints who lived a similar life to our own, who had similar struggles, can also help. Remember that to offer up the difficulties of the day, to endure what comes trusting in Divine Providence while striving to do our duty well is itself a great prayer and a means to evangelisation. We also talk to God by talking to His servants in heaven. The Lord hears all our requests.
(i) I have already mentioned the rosary. It can be used anywhere, it's relatively short and it has tremendous power. I often pray it while driving to work and say each mystery for a particular intention. It can be used wherever we are waiting or have something to do that does not involve a lot of concentration. The Jesus prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner) beloved of the Eastern Church and now quite popular in the West is also a powerful way to bring prayer into the day.
There is no reason why we cannot sanctify the day and grow closer to God even in the midst of a busy schedule. Every breath is a reason for gratitude and even our sufferings can be of help to us if we unite them with Christ's sufferings. God does not create rubbish and wishes us to waste nothing!t