Jan 28, 2019

“Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, living in awareness of the Presence, and even enjoying the Presence. The contemplative is not just aware of God’s Loving Presence, but trusts, allows, and delights in it.”[1]

[1] Fr. Richard Rohr daily email 10.29.18


So often I think that we limit prayer to just another ”should” in our lives. “I should pray for myself and friends and family.” “I should say the Lord’s Prayer more often.” “I don’t know how to pray.” But prayer is actually much more than petitions and the Lord’s Prayer and other memorized prayers. It is an attitude of openness towards God throughout the whole of our lives, throughout all of our days, encompassing all that we do from work to family to leisure time. Prayer is an attitude of opening up to the presence of God, to increasingly bringing our lives under His direction and instruction. Then the written prayers, the petitions and memorized prayers just fit neatly into this canopy of love and devotion to God; they are just a small part of it.


In its broadest sense, prayer is an openness to the presence of God, a welcome to all that God is doing in our lives, a heeding of all He suggests to us through what He says directly to us in our minds or just nudges us to do, what we read in the Bible, suggestions that others bring to us that resonate with us and the meaning of what is happening in our lives at any given time.


It takes a mind nestled in the Lord’s to hear all that He is saying to us and to see what He is doing in our lives. Remember Jesus said to us, “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear…”[1] when we are open to the Lord. Prayer is the great umbrella that shields us and protects us, that accompanies us throughout everything that happens to us, that keeps our minds focused on God, rather than on the world.


An umbrella does not turn off the rain and insure sunny skies. Like an umbrella, prayer doesn’t protect us from pain and suffering, but it does insure that we walk through everything in the presence of our Lord who sees us through anything. Think of Paul’s ministry after his conversion experience of Christ on the road to Damascus. He suffered so much—people turning on him, a near shipwreck, jail time, and more, but he was dedicated to his purpose to spread the Christian message through it all. Because of His connection to the Living Christ, he was able to enthusiastically pursue the mission he was given—no matter what.


Prayer brings us so many benefits that are unimaginable when we see things from the world’s point of view. First, of all there is the freedom to depend on God, instead of carrying our burdens all by ourselves. Second, there is the freedom for each one of us to become the people He designed us to be. Third, we no longer have to hide anything about ourselves! What a relief! Fourth, we have a true partner in everything we do, who knows us better, far better than we know ourselves. Fifth, prayer insulates us from the world’s influence, so that we can remain true to God. Fifth, it takes away our worries as we learn through experience to truly trust God. And so much more.


Spoken prayer, sitting in the presence of God, petitions, turning to Him throughout our days, listening for what He is saying to us in this person, in this book, in this verse, in this thought—prayer is the breadth and width and substance of a life lived in God. And if we manage, with God’s help, to bring that unity with God’s Holy Spirit in us to the forefront of our lives, then we will walk through our days in a wholly different way than we did before.

Just remembering to always have that umbrella with us wherever we go means that we will always have the presence of God in our consciousness, and that is truly all we need.


Questions to ponder over the week:  How do I pray? Is it just spoken prayers and petitions that I offer or am I really open to being in the presence of God throughout my days? What do I need to do to enter into his presence? Have the prayers I offer up and the silence in which I enjoy His presence brought me a sense of freedom and joy? A real partnership with Christ? Or am I a letter-of-the-law kind of worshipper still?  {Just sit with the questions that seem to call you.]


Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who rest in His presence throughout our days. May we be attuned to His presence, His suggestions in everything. May we be living the fruit of the Spirit in all that we do and are: peace, joy, love, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


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I am collecting conversion stories. I am still not sure what the Lord’s intention is for collecting these, but if you would care to share yours, I would only use your initials to identify the author.


[1] Matthew 13:16 and other places as well.

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