I didn’t grow up in a praying household.
Religion was ridiculed and people of faith were considered weak.
It’s taken me 20+ years to consider faith and it’s been a rocky journey at best.
I don’t pray as regularly as I should, nor about the right things all the time. I’m selfish and sinful and mean and hateful and hypocritical and judgy. As are we all.
Prayer guilt haunts me with that ongoing uncomfortable, knowing feeling that I really shouldn’t be in ministry because mature saints would pray more than I do, and with much more fervor; prayer laced with Puritanesque, Princetonian, seminary vocabulary, and Biblical theology would be good too.Pete Alwinson
I won’t pray for you the trite “happiness and health” because those things aren’t guaranteed, nor are they the most important.
I’m disgusted by the misuse of offering “thoughts and prayers” for tragedies, as if it helps anyone. Sometimes, silence is better.
I think prayer is more for Us than for God or the Universe or Others.
When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners so that people will see them. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask.Matthew 6:5-8
We learn about ourselves when we pray. We discover our values, needs, desires, wants.
Our eyes only see basic shapes and colors. Our minds perceive what we see. In seeing love in the face of others is to see God. To pray for others is to embrace God.
I think there are many different kinds of prayer.
Types of prayer:
- Communion (All day, all the time)
- Supplication (Lifting up your needs)
- Dedication, Sanctification, and Consecration (Ceremony for service)
- Praise (Joyful recounting of all God has done for us)
- Worship (Losing self in the adoration of God)
- Intercession (On behalf of others)
- Spiritual Warfare — Two types: Dealing with yourself (Your mind is the battlefield and Repentance and Forgiveness) and Dealing with Others (Putting on the Full Armor and Binding & Loosing)
- Agreement (Corporate Prayer)
- Watch & Pray (Continual State of Awareness as a Watchman on the Wall)
- Thanksgiving (Count your Blessings; name them one by one)
How I Pray
I grew up thinking that prayer was all about coveting, thanksgiving, and praise.
I memorized little prayers before meals and at bedtime, but it didn’t really mean anything.
I believe prayer is a constant conversation.
It can be long, wordless, or simply an exclamation.
I often express thanks or exasperation or request assistance. I never feel as if I am alone in my endeavours. Sometimes, I want reassurance that Someone else witnessed this or that along with me.
Prayer is then not just a formula of words, or a series of desires springing up in the heart – it is the orientation of our whole body, mind, and spirit to God in silence, attention, and adoration. All good meditative prayer is a conversion of our entire self to God.Thomas Merton
Prayer as a Discipline
Liturgy of the Hours
The arrangement of the Liturgy of the Hours as described by Saint Benedict:
- Matins (during the night, at about 2 a.m.) also called Vigil and perhaps composed of two or three Nocturns
- Lauds or Dawn Prayer (at dawn about 5 a.m. or earlier in summer and later in winter)
- Prime or Early Morning Prayer (First Hour = approximately 6 a.m.)
- Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer (Third Hour = approximately 9 a.m.)
- Sext or Midday Prayer (Sixth Hour = approximately 12 noon)
- None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Ninth Hour = approximately 3 p.m.)
- Vespers or Evening Prayer (“at the lighting of the lamps” about 6 p.m.)
- Compline or Night Prayer (before retiring about 7 p.m.)
The Daily Examen that St. Ignatius practiced:
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
While contemplation is a train of thought about something, meditation is training the mind to rest in a particular focus that leads to a connection to the source of consciousness itself.
Contemplative prayer follows Christian meditation and is the highest form of prayer which aims to achieve a close spiritual union with God. Both Eastern and Western Christian teachings have emphasized the use of meditative prayers as an element in increasing one’s knowledge of Christ.
Augustine spoke of seven stages:
- the first three are merely natural preliminary stages, corresponding to the vegetative, sensitive and rational levels of human life;
- the fourth stage is that of virtue or purification;
- the fifth is that of the tranquillity attained by control of the passions;
- the sixth is entrance into the divine light (the illuminative stage);
- the seventh is the indwelling or unitive stage that is truly mystical contemplation.
Saint Teresa of Avila described four degrees or stages of mystical union:
- incomplete mystical union, or the prayer of quiet or supernatural recollection, when the action of God is not strong enough to prevent distractions, and the imagination still retains a certain liberty;
- full or semi-ecstatic union, when the strength of the divine action keeps the person fully occupied but the senses continue to act, so that by making an effort, the person can cease from prayer;
- ecstatic union, or ecstasy, when communications with the external world are severed or nearly so, and one can no longer at will move from that state; and
- transforming or deifying union, or spiritual marriage (properly) of the soul with God.
Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.’ Contemplative prayer seeks him “whom my soul loves.” It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.St. Teresa
Stages of contemplative prayer by Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite:
- Katharsis (purification)
- Contemplation/theoria (illumination), also called “natural” or “acquired contemplation”
- Unity (theosis), also called “infused” or “higher contemplation”; indwelling in God; vision of God; deification; union with God
My prayer for my children:
I pray for you LESS.
I pray you are GENEROUS.
I pray you TRUST.
even when others hurt you.
when you’re scared.
when you feel lost and alone.
I pray you are SEEN.
for what you do.
for how you love.
for who you are.
and try to see others for who they really are.
I pray you feel LOVED.
despite the cruelty and coldness of this world.
even when no one expresses gratitude.
and get up again, and again, and again.
Learn from your failures.
The highest form of prayer is to stand silently in awe of God.St. Isaac the Syrian.
I really like this Mystic Prayers page.
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