Friday, March 02, 2007

One Way To Pray

It is a beautiful, but cool, morning with a hint of spring in the air. I am so glad its Friday. It has been an exhausting week. I am ready to sleep in for a few extra hours in the morning. I will have another early rising on Sunday because I must head to the monastery for my monthly meeting.

When I left work yesterday it was raining like it was the monsoon season in the Amazon basin. Sitting in my parked car waiting for my wife, the Sandman was attacking me viciously. Fighting the urge to sleep I must have appeared to be a bobble head doll.

I have often talked about prayer. You might wonder how I pray. My prayer is very simple. To be honest, I am often busy or too tired for a complicated prayer life. My role models for prayer are the men and women of the 2nd and 3rd centuries who left the cities and went out into the deserts. They are referred to as the Desert Fathers and Mothers and were the spiritual ancestors of what would later become monks and nuns. For the most part they were simple and uneducated people who often could not read. Their prayers were often just a word or perhaps a short phrase from scripture that had been read to them at some point. Along with their simple prayers, silence was a big part of their spirituality. This is how I pray most of the time. I sit in silence or use a simple word or phrase as a kind of mantra. My goal is to quiet my mind and open my heart and put my entire being in a receptive stance for whatever enlightenment God may choose to give me....or not give me. Prayer does not have to be complicated or lengthy. All prayer, if we are faithful to it, will eventually become the prayer of our heart even if we are not aware of it. This unconscious prayer of the heart is what I believe St Paul is talking about when he exhorts us to "Pray Always". At some point prayer becomes something you are and not just something you do. The pray-er becomes prayer. This is contemplation. It is those moments when you become one with the flame that is God. You are now part of the fire. Of course, this is only one way to pray and may not be attractive to all people. Whatever works for you, do it. There are many ways to pray.

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