What Prayer is God Inviting You to Today?



Intercessory prayer – Keep a list or notebook of individuals and concerns.  You might invite yourself to pray through the list over a set amount of time (once each week, each month, etc.), or allow the list to spur you to spontaneous prayer for the concern most lifting off the page for you at that time.

Repetitive prayer – You might use repetitive prayer – spoken along a ring of prayer beads, or to the pattern of your breath – as a way to prepare yourself for spontaneous prayer, or simply for your whole time of prayer.  Choose a verse or two from the Psalms; pray the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner”; or speak the name of Jesus.

Contemplative Prayer – Sometimes we want simply to be in the presence of God.  You might light a candle, gaze at an icon, or focus on your breath, to help still your mind and make you aware of God’s presence.  Free yourself from language, and simply sit in the presence of the Holy One.

Embodied prayer – Do you do yoga, stretch, or enjoy taking long walks?  Try praying with your body: Pray in the orans position, or make the sign of the cross; do prostrations to the phrases of a short prayer.  Allow the movement of your limbs to punctuate and pattern your prayer to the God who formed you in your mother’s womb.

Lectio divina or meditation on scripture – Allow the scriptures to inspire your prayer. Choose a short passage of scripture, perhaps one of the readings appointed for that day, and read it through very slowly.  What words or images jump out at you?  Allow that scene or that phrase to become the focus of your prayer.

Praying with art – Know that God can take many things – not just formal icons – and infuse them with sacredness, making them sources of revelation for us.  Go to a gallery or museum at an off-time, and allow yourself to sit with the work of art that is most speaking to you, praying to God through that object.  Or take a book of sacred paintings out of the library and allow one of the images to focus your prayer. How does this image invite you to pray? 

Journaling – It’s not possible for anyone of us to have encompassed the mystery of God; we can barely encompass the mystery of ourselves.  Journaling about past experiences, about doubts and questions, about our daily life, can open us up to aspects of our own experience and personality that we may not otherwise be able to know, and that can help to reveal to us the graces and will of God in our daily life.

Prayers of Place – Burning bushes can appear in many places.  God often comes to us veiled, so that we can approach, without being overwhelmed.  You might try spending time with God in a place of great, moderate, or little beauty, and see how it inflects your prayer.  To what prayer does God invite you on a beach, in the mountains, in the city?

Write a letter to God – Sometimes we can silence or censor ourselves in prayer.  What have you kept unsaid in your relationship with God?  Slowing down, taking pen in hand, can help us to open our hearts to God.  Try writing God a letter, as honestly as you can, sharing with God your deepest hopes and fears, your innermost thoughts.

Prayer with others – The generous and listening heart of another often helps us to be able to understand experiences of revelation in prayer, whether the friend helps us to articulate them in words, or to know them wordlessly on a level of feeling and trust.  Talking with one or others who are at a similar place in their experience is a way of authenticating our prayer experiences.  It’s also a way of approaching the Ineffable, the Inexpressible, through the patient act of listening.  Try praying with a close friend, in silence or with words; and try talking about your experiences of prayer together.

Distraction as prayer – Rather than struggling against distraction, return in prayer to those places where you repeatedly experience distraction or disruption, and ask simply, “What is it that you desire to give me?”  Over time, by returning to prayer, even with its distractions, our unnecessary defenses and resistances can be broken down.  Ask God to give you the help you need to stay faithful to your daily prayer.

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