How to Prayer – Part 3

Forming Stewards – Prayer Part 3

 “Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”  Mahatma Ghandi

‘Variety is the spice of life’! I have heard this bit of wisdom offered many times, and have probably said it myself. However, how often have we actually applied this to our prayer? If prayer has become something dry, dull, boring and unfruitful for you – why keep doing the same thing expecting a different result? Spice it up! It is okay to vary our styles and methods of prayer. While the message may indeed be the same as far as God is concerned, the effects in our daily lives will become more evident the less rigid we are when it comes to trying new things in prayer.

So far in our ‘Forming Stewards’ series, we have looked at 2 forms of prayer. The first was a 4 step ‘Stewardship Method’ of prayer: Receptive, Grateful, Generous & Trusting. The next was S.O.A.P: A way of praying with the Scriptures in the tradition of Lectio Divina. Today I want to break the mould a little bit and go crazy! Well…not quite crazy. By this I mean to start thinking outside the box when it comes to methods of prayer.  So many people speak to me disparagingly of their prayer life, firstly because for some they barely have one, and only pray for things when the going gets tough. However, the majority speak ill of their prayer time saying something akin to: “Oh I only pray occasionally, and they’re just the same prayers I have said for years from my prayer book!”

‘Only’ and ‘just’ should be two words that never figure into our conversation about prayer, or spirituality for that matter! If you are praying at all, in whatever form that may be, you’re on the right track. Don’t deride the small recited prayers you have said for years as they are written in your tattered little prayer book. These prayers are as important as any other. Yet, it does raise the question of what our spiritual maturity might be, if we solely rely on written prayers given to us when we were children. Are you too frightened to try something different? Are you too lazy? Or have you tried something else and found this to be the style of prayer for you? If the latter applies, that’s fine. If not, it’s time to shake things up a bit!

Have you ever considered having a conversation with God, out loud, as if God was standing right in front of you? Be careful where you do this, lest they put you in a straight-jacket, but give it a go. In the past, I would often go walking in the afternoon or sit in a picturesque place, and while outside, I would vocalise my internal prayers, thoughts and feelings to God. If I had questions for God – I would say it. If I had observations and reflections to share – I would say it. If I had requests to make of God – I would say it. I can’t tell you how liberating it was to do so, and perhaps how therapeutic it was to verbalise such prayers as well.

So next time you wish to pray, try something new. If you are used to saying all your prayers at Church while on your knees, try spending time in prayer outside, having a walk with God.  If you are used to saying your list of prayers as they written in a book, try being spontaneous in your prayer, and speak prayers from the heart. 

If you are used to saying the Rosary while trying to break a speed record in doing so, try slowing down and meditating on each mystery of the Rosary as they are presented in the Scriptures. If you are used to only saying a few brief prayers on the run, try sitting in a comfy and quiet place with the day’s Gospel open on your lap, and reflect upon its words for you. Ultimately, don’t be afraid to try something different and new. If after a while it still doesn’t work, don’t despair, try something else. Whatever you do don’t give up. God appreciates the effort!

                                                                                   Fr Jason Middleton