about prayer

The only thing keeping you from a better prayer life is YOU.

PRAYER. I can now admit that I used to be a bit afraid of that word. When I was younger, I thought that I could only pray words that had been written down. Written prayers from the hymnal, the catechism, or a prayer book. Some of these books have prayers for morning, for evening, for sorrow, for thanksgiving, and for joy. Today, I even found a website with 3,360 prayers – “for all your needs.”

Then I learned that I could say my own prayers, using my own words. At first this was a relief, but I found myself very carefully constructing these prayers with words that I thought would please God. These prayers were most often planned and very few. I also learned that the Holy Spirit, by whom we are sealed in Baptism, would help me find the words I needed. This was again great news!

The Oxford American Dictionary defines prayer as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”

The word “prayer” has often been trivialized by using it into a way of getting what we want. It is not a technique for getting things, a pious exercise that somehow makes God happy, or a requirement for entry into heaven. It is much more like practicing heaven now. I would like to suggest “prayer” can refer to any the interior journeys or practices that allow you to experience faith, hope, and love within yourself.

The ancient Hebrew word for prayer, however, also indicates silent prayer. Prayer without words. How revolutionary that was for me! Now I know that prayer is not necessarily something we do for ourselves or for God, but something that God does for us.

Prayer is all about relationship, spending time with God. God already knows our heart and our minds. Through silent, meditative and contemplative prayer we have the opportunity to open ourselves enough to begin to know the heart and mind of God.

Prayer must come from the heart – the soul. When prayer comes from the head, it becomes very narcissistic.

We have a God of relationship! Prayer was at least part of Jesus’ connection to the Father – and it is ours.

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. … I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17: 1, 14-17)

But when you pray go to your inner room, close the door and pray to the Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6 NIV)

Here is what I want you to do: Find a secluded, quiet place so that you won’t be tempted to role play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God and you will begin to sense his grace. (Matthew 6, The Message)

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. John 15:4

If the only prayer you say in your life is Thank You – that would be enough. – Meister Eckhart.

I am a soul. I have a body. The body cannot exist by itself. – Pastor Ed Keller

I would suggest that at least part of wisdom is precisely the freedom to be truly present to what is right in front of you. Presence is wisdom! People who are fully present know how to see fully, rightly and truth fully. … Jesus often calls prayer “vigilance,” “seeing,” or “being awake.” When you are awakened, you will know for yourself all that you need to know. In fact, “stay awake” is the last thing Jesus says to the apostles – three or perhaps four times – before he is taken away to be killed. (Mt 26: 38-45) -Richard Rohrs

“God, you were here all along, and I never knew it.” says Jacob on awakening from his stone pillow, Genesis 28:16.

The essential religious experience is that you are being “known through” more than knowing anything in particular yourself. Yes, despite this difference, it will feel like true knowing. At this point, God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. There is someone dancing with you, and you are not so afraid of making mistakes. You know even those will be used in your favor. At that point, you also have awakened from your stone pillow and you know with a new clarity what you partly knew all along! – Richard Rohrs

Prayer is not about changing God, but being willing to let God change us. True prayer is always about getting the “who” right. Who is doing the praying? You or God-in-you? “Little old you” or the Eternal Christ Consciousness? Basically prayer is an exercise in divine participation—you opting in and God always there!

The first step to wisdom is silence. The second is listening.

(Solomon Ibn Gabriol, on a billboard outside of Benedict, Nebraska.)

Contemplation (the prayer beyond words and ideas) is a way to describe what Jesus did in the desert. It is not learning as much as it is unlearning. It is not explaining as much as containing and receiving everything, and holding onto nothing. It is refusing to judge too quickly and refining your own thoughts and feelings by calm observation and awareness over time—in the light of the Big Picture. -Rohrs




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