Week 3 Day 2: Place
Question: Where and how do you pray outside?
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Transcript of Video:
The place for prayer doesn’t have to be something that’s particularly quiet or withdrawn. I’ve found I really appreciate praying the labyrinth, which – the Brothers don’t have a labyrinth, at least not at the moment. There is a labyrinth not that far away, but it’s at a busy intersection here in Cambridge in a public park. And I’ve found I really enjoy praying it. At first I wished it could be in the monastic enclosure: “I wish this could be in our garden, I wish I was in my house; I wish I was in a quiet place.” I’m not, I’m at Western Memorial, and it’s busy and there’s always traffic there when I’m praying the labyrinth. And I found, as I told my Brothers, actually that’s appropriate. It’s appropriate to pray in public, to pray with noise. And part of praying the labyrinth is this act of surrender. You’re going to the center. You have to continually turn around, literally. You don’t get lost, you just have to keep turning around, and that’s what life is so much like.
So I really appreciate praying the labyrinth early in the morning, because it’s a practice of letting go, and it’s letting go in the midst of daily life. It’s letting go at Western Memorial when there’s traffic on both sides. And I feel a little bit self-conscious, at least at first, praying here. But it’s there that I’m choosing to let go: choosing to turn around again and again, because when I go back to the Monastery, that’s what I’m going to do inside. I’m going to turn around again and again as I ask for help – or keep learning to ask for help – from my Brothers as we sing together, as we eat together, as I meet with people, as I struggle to write and speak and lead and do all of those things, I’m having to turn around constantly. Things don’t go as I expect. And so praying the labyrinth in public at a busy intersection has actually been quite a gift.
So where do we pray? Maybe it’s at an intersection. Maybe it’s not the location you would expect or want, but perhaps you have been given a place to surrender, a place to turn around, a place to remember what’s most important, on a subway, as you drive, in a place that seems farthest from church or a prayerful place and yet – as a gift for you – may actually have the words for you, the invitation that are right for you today.
-Br. Luke Ditewig
Where and how do you pray outside?
I pray as I drive through the hills. Often when felling restless especially, I get into my car and go for a drive. The silence within the car but also with the hum of the road and all the scenery around me, I find soothing, meditative and prayerful. I have my best conversations with God there.
My second spot is a coffee house. Usually, it’s bursting with all kinds of energy. I love being in that energy. Sometimes I’m listening to my own music and I love the people watching where I am. There’s something about the feel of that energy and seeing all the humanity about me that brings me in touch with greater humanity and with God and brings me to prayer. Often, in this place, it’s a wordless prayer of presence.
Brother Luke really captured me with this one. I have worked in spatial design for years, the spirit of place particularly within the urban environment is critical to me. In addition, I had to make a decision as to whether to be private or public about cancer. Being “spiritual in plain sight” is a very good thing – for the self and for others. “Outside” can mean many things. Outside can be outside of ourselves, outside of our home or normal environment. I am amazed by the pluralism of spirituality that touches us within a hospital environment – that environment was definitely “outside for me” and my own labyrinth for some time.
Lately i have been putting in place a new prayer routine since I started my second shift job. In the past praying the hours have been important to me. I have prayed the labyrinth before and a couple of churches in San Antonio have indoor and outdoor Labyrinths. My favorite forms of prayer would be the rosary and the stations of the Cross. I’ve been to what they call living stations of the cross where each station is acted out and have carried the cross it is very meaningful and have wept. The hours can be prayer anywhere.
For me, prayer can be ongoing as part of everyday life…….walking my dog, sitting on a swing under a tree in my yard, driving in the car (sometimes praying for peace for the aggressive driver who just zoomed by!), in a hospital elevator, for the person I am sending a card to, for my family when we are apart, for moments with grandchildren, mopping floors, when I first wake up, and on and on…………..
I appreciate Br. Luke’s admission that he is a bit self-conscious when he prays outside. However, I am sure it is for very different reasons. I love praying the labyrinth at our church – though I rarely do it. The priests will set up candles – which are very centering for me – when it is an organized labyrinth walk. I may cry as I walk it. I then become aware that someone may notice. In my past life, it may have seemed that I needed assistance, but that is not my life now. If I need assistance, I will ask. So I need to get past that. I am a crier. I may cry with prayer. I also pray when in the woods or walking quietly in my neighborhood.
My porch, chair or hammock at home or walking park/trails.
I pray outside, like Br. Luke, on a labyrinth when possible. There is a nice one at SSJD when I go there on retreat. There is also one at a retreat house on Lake Ontario. Both of these are quiet places though, with no distractions. Also I pray in the car. I pray when an ambulance rushes by for example, or for people I see on the streets who seem to need prayer.
As I walk the dog I pray my joy at the presence trees and birds and sky. I’m also in the habit of praying whenever I hear a siren asking God to guide those responding and those responded to.
I think becoming aware of God’s love and grace through all I see and feel as I walk is a prayer without words.
I used to walk by the city hospital, often, and I would hear the “life-flight” helicopter approaching. For me, it was a call to prayer for those on board: the patients, the medics and the families who waited.
A friend ofo mine would pray as she undertook a repetitive task, naming a person at each action. I like the idea of praying at intersections, praying in moments of “rest”.
I don’t have a labyrinth close by that I can go to often, but I do pray while outside walking—even it’s just between my car and the campus building where I teach. Of course, I also pray while driving, especially on long car trips. But even the fifteen-minute commute to work can be a blessing. My favorite, though, is when I really have the chance to be surrounded by nature. The walking path near my house takes me between two parks. Then there is the local botanical garden; I don’t get there very often, but every time I do, I vow I will make it a regular practice. And often while praying indoors, I take my mind and imagination to a special outdoor setting that lives in my memory.
When I’m walking on the Golf course, I find Gods beauty in everything my eyes behold. The solitude provides me the time to be thankful for so very much.
…Hard Prayer on the God
I pray everywhere. But my prayers are not the traditional kneel down and clasp hands kind- more of an ongoing conversation. So I speak to God as I walk along the street or wait for a train.
I pray everywhere. But my prayers are not the traditional kneel down and clasp hands kind- more of an ongoing conversation. So I speak to God as I walk along the street or wait for a train. I look up at a blue sky on a sunny day and thank him. I praise him while basking in the glow of a gorgeous sunset. I also enjoy walking the labyrinth at our church, although it is inside.
p.s. I do pray but am not as disciplined as I might be to spend longer periods of time in His Presence. This is a big help.
These exercises and comments are so helpful…..thank you…..I used to be very centered where it was quite easy to pray in the grocery lines….I am trying to get back but have been on the Desert….Waiting on Grace….
It is my plan to “build” a labyrinth on the grass next to our church building so that people walking along the street can stop and walk and pray.
This reflection has caused me to stop and think about praying outside; I am not aware that I do that consciously! I like the idea of praying as I wait at an intersection to cross the road – to pray for the people in each of the cars going past. To pray as I walk along the street and smile at those whom I encounter. I always seem to be in such a rush and absorbed in my own world. Prayer can take me out of my individual space and connect me energetically and perhaps physically (that smile) with those around me in my everyday world.
I have prayed the labyrinth in the past and really loved it, there is something so steadying about this movement that doesn’t need to arrive, and about praying in movement but without words. I had had a plan to travel the country visiting labyrinths – a pilgrimage of sorts, but then I changed countries. Perhaps it is time to revive this plan in the country where I am. And give thanks for all the good people who have created labyrinths.
Does praying for a parking space count ??
I value the structure of prayer with my brothers and sisters in God at our beautiful village church but also I love to have the opportunity of prayer in a quiet place, whether it be at home or another lovely place. Prayer is taken to a different level if I am walking in town with the hustle and bustle or on our bus when going into town with all the other passengers chatting amongst themselves but the wonderful thing is that I know wherever I pray, God is with me.
It seems so counter-intuitive to me that a very inwardly focused action can be so outwardly stimulated. Yet it is. I don’t consciously pick a place to pray, except for worship. Part of prayer for me is listening, and that’s very hard. I have to practice it, and I’m not so patient. So I really appreciate this reflection, which teaches me that I can focus and listen and hear above and through the noise, the distractions, the diversions, and yes, the ugliness. It’s wonderful to experience God in the beauty of a garden, the mystique of a bird calling to its young or mate, or the miracle of a birth. It’s equally important for me to learn to recognize God in the other places, like the labyrinth that sits between very busy thoroughfares, or some place where I feel vulnerable and alone. In a way I feel like prayer for me is like learning a new language every day. Sometimes I don’t quite get the grammar and the syntax, but I can still communicate. And it’s becoming less and less about what I do, and more and more about what I’m open to experience.
I have always prayed whenever outside in nature. After having been raised with many interactions with Native Americans, it’s simply a way of life. We take our youth on pilgrimage to South Dakota every other year where they learn from the Lakota who live in the Black Hills and on the Pine Ridge Reservation about the sacredness of nature and the inter-connectivity of all things. Mitakuye Oyasin – all are related. Climbing mountaintops becomes a very spiritual activity but so does simply sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair looking at the stars. Here is a blog post I wrote about my personal prayer experience in South Dakota.
Everyday after the Anthem we have a moment of silence. This is when I pray in front of my class or out in the hall. I give thanks for the fact that I teach in such a safe place in the world, that my family is good, and for me to be the kind of teacher my students and colleagues need me to be.
When I go outdoors I am mindful of going forth With a spirit of love and of gratitude. This helps me in finding so much to prayerfully rejoice, give thanks and lovingly care.
My favorite outside place to pray is wherever I am taking a daily morning walk. The weather has prevented me from taking these walks, and I have learned once again that I have great difficulty praying when I am not walking. I find that while I am doing chores I am too easily distracted by focusing on what I am doing to really pray well. I am looking forward to the snow being gone so it is once again safe to walk outside.
I tend to pray intermittently throughout the day. It’s kind of an ongoing conversation with God. Upon awakening, walking from the bus, driving, before I start my work, if something irritates me, if something good happens, when I need help. These prayers could occur anywhere. I especially like to go to the wilderness preserve where I like to hike. There are benches where I stop and sit and pray. Those prayers feel cleansing. We have a Labyrinth at my church. I have not tried it. But I think I will.
Experiencing the glory of nature prompts me to pray. For example, the other day I was gliding on my cross country skis across the reservoir in the Fell. A layer of fresh powder provided the perfect surface. The sun lit up the snow in sparkles. There was no-one else around, and I was the first to get back on the reservoir after the snowfall.
I pray while walking. I pray while gardening. I often pray when swimming lengths. I count this as “outside” because the medium is different. It doesn’t seem to matter how busy the water is. I can let go of everything out of the water when I am in the water.
Where and how do I pray outside?
I , like most people, tend to think that this is something that has to be done in some bucolic setting. And I do have moments that feel prayerful when I walk over to Prospect Park. But the brother raises an interesting question about where else I might do it. I walk so much in the city to do really anything, that those could be occasions for prayer. Not every trip to the grocery store of course. But one or two of them. Sometimes. It would just be a quiet internal kind of prayer—but I could do it.
I pray in the car,the mall, the subway, the job, etc. I do it sometimes moving my lips or silently. If we do indeed are pray without ceasing it is vital that we pray outside of the comforts of church and home
Most often I pray while working in the garden. Unburdening myself while ripping weeds out of the ground is doubly cathartic. Praise seems to be while hiking in the woods or simply while sitting quietly and soaking in this miracle that we call earth. At those times anything can prompt my prayer: birdsong, a chipmunk dashing cross the patio, clouds, a sunrise or sunset. You get the idea.
I pray when working in the garden at church and watering the plants. I am reminded that I can pray not only with my lips and mind but with the movement of my hands and body. I can feel the soil and the water and sense God’s presence.
I have prayed outside in a variety of places. One is praying arrrow prayers such as “Jesus Christ, Son of God, make yourself known through me” or the Jesus prayer while swimming laps. Another swimming laps prayer – especially good for the breast stroke! is this by Theresa of Avila
Her heart is full of joy with love,
For in the Lord her mind is stilled.
She has renounced every selfish attachment
And draws abiding joy and strength
From the One within.
She lives not for herself, but lives
To serve the Lord of Love in all,
And swims across the sea of life
Breasting its rough waves joyfully.
I’ve prayed the Lord’s prayer as a meditation on walks, or, like others have said “wow” or “thank you” at some beautiful gift of nature. I’ve prayed in traffic – after some deep breaths to let go of any anxiety about “not getting there in time” – for people I know who are in need, or situations. And I’ve also much appreciated the gift of the Labrynth. I’ve prayed St. Patrick’s breastplate when driving through a difficult snow storm, with greatly reduced visibility, and also when turbulence hit my airiplane – that’s a “help” prayer for sure! While I’m also a long way from praying constantly, I’m very much a believer at praying at all times and in all places.
…turning around again and again in a labyrinth is for me similar to asking God ‘why about something’ in many different places again and again and than one day you discover your question asked again and again is no longer a question or a turning around but you actually discover it is a deep prayer, which has gone on and on for several years…and when you get an all of a sudden answer, that only ‘you’ recognize…one appreciates ‘hard prayer’.
For the last year I’ve been intrigued with ‘constant prayer’ — ‘prayer without ceasing’ I am no-where close to such an accomplishment but say the Jesus Prayer often. It is aways at a open space in my schedule and it is always about a 3 to ten repetitions at a time. I get great satisfaction from saying the prayers. Sometimes I feel like I’m saying empty repititious words with no feeling and maybe I should give it up; but not yet.
Thank you Brother Luke for sharing your labyrinth experience with us. I can see you at it, and think it is an important witness for passersby.
I have a clear memory of being told (through reading), that we can pray all the time, by Thomas Merton, enough years ago, that that is the extent of the memory. The closest I come to that is being open to prayer whenever the need arises. At any time, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, however many people are speaking aloud, I utter prayers. It could be anything from remembering someone in intercession that I just remembered that I omitted earlier, to something that comes to me at the moment. Anything at all. The beauty of this for me is that nothing can stand in the way of prayer, ever. It’s the connection we make that matters.
“Prayer outside” takes a lot of shapes for me, from sitting on the balcony of my 3rd floor apartment -which is also where I read, weather permitting, to walking.
These “walking prayers” whether just around my urban neighborhood, or along the beach, tend to be the most conversational with God. And the most argumentative. When I have something about which I am troubled, or have a gritch about something I need to get of my chest – a desire sometimes to “give God an earful” I tend to go for a walk. Before long, I find myself saying “I just don’t understand why you did (or didn’t do) “X”, Why did you let “Y” happen? How come things in my life are such a mess? Can’t you see I’m trying!
And we walk.
Some conversations take many walks. But I have always felt answered. Sometimes I have felt my attitude soften and change. Sometimes I have found actual sound pastoral guidance. Often, my questions are not answered.
But I always am.
Mostly my out-of-doors prayers are spontaneous and nearly always thanksgiving. On my walks I give thanks that I live in this lovely little city on the northeast coast of Massachusetts, or for specific beautiful things that I see. I give thanks when shovelling snow that I’m able to do it. I give thanks for rain, for fresh air, even for the beauty of snow after all these weeks of storm. And I pray for people whom I observe or meet who are unhappy, or infirm, or just look like they need a prayer. And of course, for all those workers getting hardly any sleep for the continual job of plowing and removing snow.
Sometimes I say a prayer will practicing shavasana, the final pose in a yoga practice. Shavasana ,also called ‘corpse pose’, always occurs at the end to a class, with the yoga practitioner lying on his back, very still, in a state of deep relaxation. Technically one should try not to have active thoughts during this pose and just notice one’s breathe. But I often cheat. I use this time to pray. Some times I say in my head an actual established prayer (the Lords Prayer for one) or a prayer of gratitude for how I feel that day, or even, a few times, a prayer asking for help. So that is one outside area of prayer for me. Another is on the back of my horse, on a trail ride. Riding my horse in the woods or across meadows, I lose some of my ‘humanness’ and become more one with nature. I often see animals who would normally avoid me if it were just me walking, or, I catch a wonderful view of a sunset or fleeting flash of a bluebird. The point is, my senses are almost hyper active (perhaps I am taking on the senses of my horse) and I consider the experience as a personal interaction with God. So I pray to the steady clip clop of my horse’s gait. It is quite nice.
I prayed outdoors all last year usually in our backyard on my homemade bench. Nature! In less secluded places, not so often, though I have sometimes used a prayer rope and psalm verses in hospital waiting rooms — not just in emergencies, but also calmer moments. I’d close my eyes, but instead of insulating me from the jangly environment, prayer made me hyper-aware of the others waiting, feeling drawn to their concerns – unafraid now, within a big peace, like a canopy or tent, one that was already being held up. Anyway, something that really gave me the impression I wasn’t the only one.
Is it a coincidence, or as our Rector calls it a God-incidence? Last weekend our Church hosted a one day retreat entitled “Holy Seeing.” Through exercises, reflection and prayer I understood that nature is my favorite place for Holy Seeing, and, for me, a thin space, much like the Monastery in Boston and my Church in Alexandria. Nature, in quiet and isolation or among my bustling neighbors, is my natural cathedral – a place for prayer. Much like your labyrinth Brother Luke – a place for prayer. Thank you for this reflection.
I pray in the car when I pass a special open field with horses that I pass every day. I pray when I hear someone needs help right where ever I am. I pray silently when I meet new little babies.
I complete a circuit walking around Green Lake in Seattle, as often as I can each week. It’s very busy but there’s plenty in the sky, on the water, in the lakeside park to help me pay attention to God and God’s creation.
I rise early in the morning. I find this is a good time to read the daily prayers and contemplate. It is quiet, i think better in the silence, stillness of my home in the mountains surrounding Weaverville, Trinity County, Ca. I live on my wife’s ranch which borders on a meadow and forest. It is a spiritual place, a thin space.
These days I don’t have a particular time or place for prayer. My prayers are like conversations with God and include observations, questions, sharing feelings both happy and sad, wonderings, gratitude, etc. And this happens all the time no matter where I am or what I am doing at the time.
I try to pray outside every day as I bring in firewood. Praying without ceasing has been a lifelong goal I’ve tried to achieve (without great success) since early childhood. Praying outside allows me to see Creation anew and many of God’s creature, human and non-human) as I travel about outside.
My House is 150 Feet from the Cul de Sac down in a canyon………it is the only house with cliffs on each side here, with the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance. Whenever I leave home, halfway up the walk I stop, look at the beauty surrounding me, the mountains in the distance thanking God for my home, animals and all he has given me. A small prayer with a big blessing!
Praying outside is my absolute favorite! I’m not so good at praying while moving, but am moved to stop and pray. It really doesn’t matter if it’s the woods, a beach, a cemetery, but it’s lovely when I’m alone with God. I don’t know how to “pray” a labyrinth, but based on all of your comments, I think I will learn!
I pray The Lord’s Prayer every night before I go to sleep – or anytime before I go to sleep. Outside, my favorite place to pray is walking on the beach, listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the sand or just the gentle ebb and flow of the tide. The ocean is where I am most reminded of the majesty of God and of our place in the world He created. It humbles me, and awes me.
I am late joining this Lenten conversation. I’ve been home sick the last few days and have taken the time to go back through each day’s reflection and comments. I wish I’d started at the beginning! But since all things happen for a reason, maybe things have worked out just as they needed to.
When my dear dog was still alive, we prayed as we went on walks. I often pray while hiking, much of it in the form of exclaiming over beauty and wonder and delicacy of large and small things encountered along the way, as one would to a beloved companion. My church has an outdoor labyrinth, but I haven’t felt drawn to pray there, wonderful as it is. Maybe I’d better give it a try if it can help me learn to really let go, the way it does for Br. Luke.
I’ve prayed outdoors as I walk on the beach at sunrise; as I visit the graves of my parents and my husband in a local cemetery; as I walk around my neighborhood; as I sit quietly in my church’s columbarium garden. Being outdoors in itself is like a prayer–I’m reminded of the majesty and power of God, while at the same time reminded that God indeed cares for the least of these–the shoots of green sprouting up, small fish that dart in the ocean waves, the birds of the air and the bugs of the earth–and me.
A very interesting illustration. A few years ago there was a retreat at Emery House “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” The epiphany that came to me in that retreat was that silence is not the absence of sound but the stillness of soul. We create our own personal silence regardless of the actual situation in the world around us.
There are many places to pray outside – for me, the journey of a run whether 4 or 14 miles (or more) is a place where I pray because it’s just me and my footfall. I also am blessed with 6 1/3 acres of Church property in rural Southern Virginia between two pieces of farm land and traversing the grounds is prayerful for me.
As “bob” said, elation or despair, like I’m freed from the social mores of what’s expected. I pray as I drive, while waiting in a line, walking. Sometimes as simple as “OK, Lord?” or “wow, Lord”.
Glad it’s not just me, then! Thanks Lissa
i pray where ever I am. I believe my Lord God is everywhere, so everywhere is the perfect place.
On a recent pilgrimage to Israel I went from renewing my baptismal vows in the Jordan River to the wilderness to pray. On the way to the wilderness I was looking forward to the total silence and opportunity to pray as Jesus did after his baptism by John. As I settled myself in a spot away from my fellow pilgrims I found myself besieged by young Bedouin boys selling their wares; beaded bracelets and scarves. I bought a bracelet in the hopes that they would go away and leave me to my prayer and silence. But no. That encouraged them all the more. I was frustrated inside. They were disturbing my sacred space! It took a bit for the realization to strike me that these were the “other” about whom I so often pray. When I refused any more bracelets the young boy asked in the gentlest way, “Why won’t you help us?” This, I realized, was the greatest form of prayer – to give up my “wants” in order to connect with the world’so deepest needs. It is through service that I experience my greatest connection to God in Christ which, after all, is the goal of every prayer.
I too experience from time to time that what I perceive as an irritant is a reminder from God of some wrong thinking on my part.
One of my favorite places to pray is in a labyrinth. I experienced my first walk over twelve years ago. I really love the way that all you must do once you are on the path is keep going forward and you will reach the center. I also am always impacted by the way that I draw near to the center, so close that I can almost touch it and then a little ways ahead on the path I find myself out so far from it. To me it is my earthly walk with my God; at times so close and at other times feeling so far away. Yet always He is there with me and my work is to keep moving forward.
I don’t usually pray outside unless something is especially troubling me, but it sounds like a good habit to start.
I tend to pray more while I am outside precisely because there is so much there that captures the imagination of my heart and pulls me out of self….from the beauty of earth and sky and sea to the praying mantis I found on my windshield this summer. I particularly like the discipline of a long hike in rugged terrain precisely because of the many object lessons.For instance my husband and I were in the mountains recently and did what was supposed to be a moderate to strenuous hike..four miles total….the guidebook failed to say that was two miles straight down and then two miles straight up. Nothing like climbing out of a chasm to promote spiritual growth!
Many of my most profound experiences with God have been outdoors. I think I pray more easily outdoors than anywhere else, except maybe in a nave. As much as possible, I go outdoors to read Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer — usually on my back deck where I can see, hear, touch and smell God’s creation, and feel myself as part of that.
Where and how? As The Lord compels me. As I feel the need. As I’m conscious of the practice of living the prayer; where and how, and when and why become irrelevant. The prayer just is.
I usually pray when I’m out for my morning walk (which has not been very consistent lately). The beauty of creation strikes me, and words fail me, so I have no choice but to say a continual “Thank you, Lord”. And then I offer prayers for the blessings in my life and prayers for family and friends, for tough world situations (local, regional, and international). At the end of my prayer it is amazing how much ground I’ve covered without even realizing it, since I give myself over completely to the experience.
I pray every morning when I walk my 5 km. I start at one end of each region in the diocese, and pray for each of the clergy in the parishes in the region. Sometimes, when I get home, it seems that I should contact someone for whom I prayed, so I email or phone. Often they just need to hear that someone “out there” remembers them.
This was actually the easiest question to answer for me so far. Because I do my best praying outside. I pray best when I walk the dog or when I ride my bike on the trail here in my town called the ‘Rail Trail.’ I pray in the car. It’s easy to pray outside – for me.
I pray outside at the ocean, in the backyard when the deer come to nibble, when the wild turkeys go gobbling through, when the snow is drifting down or blowig horizontally or gleaming sparkling white all around. I haven’t found words for these times but it’s a swelling of emotion and joy and gratitude and grace that I share in this world.
We have a labyrinth in our meadow but it is under feet of snow at present. It is indeed a place to walk and pray. The peace of the put of doors especially at night under the stars or near water is my favorite place to listen in prayer.
I view my, ahem, “daily” walks as prayer time. While not technically outside, I also pray while sitting in the gate area waiting for a flight. Those prayers are mostly about trying to center myself and have patience amid the noise, confusion, and seemingly inevitable delays.
After my son gets on the school bus in the morning I like to walk up into the woods behind our house. I feel as though the walking is the talking portion of my morning prayer, in which I think about my concerns, hopes and intercessions. Eventually I stop and sit on a rock and this is when I listen. Do I hear a response? Sometimes yes, sometimes no–there is only silence. But I do know for certain whatever I hear, silence or answer, it is exactly what I need in the moment.
I often say a prayer as I walk to and from office but I have been known to close my eyes for a few minutes on a train or subway to spend some time with God. I find a version of the Jesus prayer to be very helpful – ‘Jesus Christ, only Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’. It has been so cold where I live this winter that my walks between work and home tend to be dominated by thoughts of cold and longings for warmth. Thank you, Brother, for reminding me of a better way to use the time!
I pray immediately when I hear/think of someone or something that needs prayer. I pause wherever I am. It is not long or elaborate but it is intentional and heartfelt. I am in my car a lot and quite often I stop and pull into a quiet place and park. That’s where I pray. Sometimes I put on music or a meditation or I just breathe.
I don’t consciously decide to pray when I am outside, but since I strive to pray continuously, being aware of God in all things, then I suppose I pray wherever I am.
Watching the river from our lower deck…
I pray everywhere. I pray as I walk, drive and ride the train to work, at work, at home, as I garden, as I practice choir music, as I lay down to sleep, whenever I hear I siren. I’m trying to make my whole life a prayer. I’ve got a long way to go yet, but I’m praying.
I’m blessed with a rather long and generally uneventful drive for my commute to work, and I have appropriated it as my daily prayer time. It settles me before the busy-ness of work. At home, its easy to pray while working in the garden.
At school, its harder to pray in the spaces of quiet time in my classroom, but that’s often when I need it. Those prayers tend to be the immediate Help/Thanks/Wow type.
I don’t do much praying outdoors on a daily basis. When it’s warm, I ride my bike and often that is a time for prayer. Maybe I would profit for making this a more regular thing. Thanks.
I pray while I garden. I feel a deep connection to all that God has made and continues to form, including me. I find myself thinking about people and situations in my life and lift them up to God. Sometimes just digging and planting and pruning and weeding becomes prayer.
And metaphor. I learn so much from creation as expressed in my gardens.
I walk in a cemetery near my home. It is quiet, beautiful, and in my case flat. Initially I thought it an odd place to walk and my friends often looked askance when I told them of my daily walk. Now I find that I care less about what others think and treasure more the time I share with God. It has taken a cemetery to show me life is more about relationship and less about appearance. Why I am still surprised to learn God knows more than I do just baffles me
Outside, I pray during walks and bike rides around Denver. When I go to the mountains to snowshoe, there it is a total experience of prayer. Lately, it has been cold and hard to spend time outside. On Saturday, I had an extra half hour on my way to a church class. I stopped at a local park and walked around on a path, surrounded by sun and snow. Usually I am not reciting intercessionary prayers or anything that focused on thinking. I am appreciating the beauty of creation. When the weather is good, I have a usual walk along Cherry Creek and the Platte River–seeing the ducks and listening to the running water, and then the walk gets urban, up the bridge over the tracks and looking into downtown Denver. Finally over Manny’s bridge (named for the guy who was a LoDo pioneer and saved the old railroad bridge from destruction–its now a pedestrian bridge) and back home. On this walk I am so grateful to live in downtown Denver and I am imagining what to do next time my grandsons and daughter come to visit. Ice creams at the refurbished Union Station. Maybe the train to the airport will be open. And the 16th mall bus which is always a winner. Thinking about my grandsons brings a smile to my face. Thinking about beauty and about family is one of my ways of praying.
I pray on my back porch each morning when the weather is a little warmer. I love Ps. 96, let everything in every field in jubilation join. When I sing along with the morning chorus it lifts my heart.
During the day when I am working I try to notice feelings of impatience or envy (wishing I was in charge) and I use those as signals to pray for my colleagues. It helps me recognize that I have enough.
I will walk the Labyrinth at my church on nice days. It is an outside Labyrinth. I often say prayers before getting out of bed in the mornings and at the end of the day. I will pray in the car while traveling. I am known to pray at my desk at work, especially on a very busy day to keep calm. I will pray before meals at a restaurant with my friends. I pray anywhere.
I am part of a discipline that has helped me to take prayers with me wherever I go and to use them when I need them. At first this felt very self-conscious, like you, Br. Luke, and the labyrinth, but I soon realized that prayer is a conversation between me and God, and that I could have it privately and intimately wherever I was. I think of Annie Lamott’s book on prayer “Help, Thanks, Wow” and how that’s all we really need to say when we pray. So those words are with me always, along with the beautiful Reinhold Neihbur serenity prayer and the St. Francis Prayer, for any time, any place.
I live on one of the Great lakes and I pray near the lake. When words fail me the water becomes the prayer. The the waves on the shore, the exchange of water and sand become the communion between me and God. At this time of year the surface is frozen and the prayers of the water are hidden in the deep.
I wear a Fitbit, which is a small device which I wear around my left wrist. It counts how many steps I walk in one day every day. Some days I take time to leave our home and walk around our neighbourhood. Other times I have gone to a soccer dome a seven or eight minute drive from where we live where there is an indoor walking track. There is a cemetery near where I live. There are quiet laneways in the cemetery. The place where I pray is more the place at which I arrive when I walk as I don’t wear any kind of earphones when I walk. I have to take time to think and contemplate. When I have thought I know what I need to pray about. Then I can pray.
Being on the walk by myself is a place where I can pray.
My regular place for prayer is at dawn, in my easy chair by the fireplace in the living room. After praying psalms and reading the Bible mostly I sit in silence. Prayers of many words have given way to prayers of few words these days.
I find it makes no difference where I am if I need to pray, I pray. In a car stuck in traffic, in the morning when I get up, any time or place during the day that I find I need help, at night before I go to bed.
While walking at the beach and in the woods. Alone. I thank God for the wonderous world snd for making me a small but important speck in it. I’ve not tried praying outside on busy streets so I think I’ll give that a try. Often I drive with intentionality meaning I turn off radio and think only about what I can hear snd see. It’s a mindfulness exercise and keeps me in touch with the present.
Over the years, my view of prayer has evolved to embrace a view more along the lines of the old Celtic Catholic thought. As they lived lives much closer to and affected by nature than we do, they had prayers for everything — the lighting of the fire, the milking of the cows, and countless other daily tasks and experiences. In this, there was a deeply rooted cognizance that God really is in and through everything, that nothing happens without his presence there in some way. This thought prompted me to start seeing prayer as an ongoing conversation with an ever-present Presence. Sometimes it is more conscious like a discussion, sometimes it is just a flow of quiet sharing and Being, sometimes it is everyday gratitude – like noticing and expressing thankfulness for a bit of beauty while gardening, a sort of, “Wow. What a beautiful flower! You must have enjoyed creating that one!” While I also have gotten much from other more structured forms of prayer, I find that the ongoing conversation helps keep me in mind of the powerful truth expressed so beautifully in part of The Breastplate of St. Patrick:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
So my answer to the question is “Anywhere. Because God is everywhere.”
Really a nice thought. To pray continuously… To express, to listen and be still, and to observe, to be aware. Thanks.
You expressed my view of prayer beautifully. Prayer, to me, is simply being aware of God’s abiding presence in every moment of our lives and responding with our own version of one of the three sentiments someone else here mentioned in quoting Anne LaMott, “Help, Thanks, Wow!” The hard part is maintaining the awareness. The most basic prayer I need is not asking God to be present but asking God to keep me aware that “He” is constantly present.
I love St Patrick’s Breastplate. I remember singing it often as a child. I wonder if it had a subtle influence on me.
I guess on my walks around the city. I’m not sure it’s praying or mumbling under my breath but occasionally I talk to God about what I’m seeing.
Before retirement, praying on the bus to and from work was very uplifting. Especially rewarding was praying the Anglican rosary. To keep things fresh, I occasionally recited the Roman version.
Whenever, someone I knew needed help, they would be incorporated in these prayers. Over time,as I heard fellow travelers’ personal issues, I began to pray for them. It felt so fulfilling to give them a little support, even though they had no idea it was being provided to them.
Every so often I get to ride the subway here in Boston by myself. I bring my Anglican rosary with me as well. The people on my subway are always very diverse (on every level) and I enjoy praying surrounded by God as reflected in so many different faces.
When there is a need expressed…when I see your pain or fail to see it…when His Spirit blows upon me even the slightest breath of grace…in my joy or sadness…want or need…oh…
I say my first prayers early in the morning, while I’m driving to an AA meeting. The combination of the two gets me right-focused for the rest of the day.
I pray just about every day (given it’s not raining or below freezing) when I walk my dog. We go early in the morning before the sun is up and in the evening, usually before the sun goes down. Sometimes I can find God in the sunsets; beautiful! This is my favorite way to pray, as I walk and am amongst God’s creatures and creations.
Outside prayer tends for me towards despair and elation. The moderate prayer of everyday doesn’t come to mind.
It is 7:50 and I am in Florence, Italy, six hours ‘ahead’ of Boston. Shortly I will walk to the Duomo, enter the side entrance and start my prayer time. As I wander the streets to get there, I will pray the Jesus Prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me,’ which I have been practicing for the past five years. It is with me wherever I go, whether alone in the company of others.
Br. Luke, you have perfectly described walking the labyrinth and why it is even more important to pray in public amidst the busyness. I’ve walked to labyrinths here in TN, one at St. Mary’s retreat house in Sewanee and one on the Vanderbilt campus in Nashville. I described the experience as one of panic (when I realized I was walking away from the center where I envisioned meeting God), but then as I turned again, I was comforted that God was there all along. Thank you for reminding us of this ancient spiritual discipline. It is good particularly to be out of doors for the experience. Here’s my short note: https://agathanolen.com/journal/labyrinth.html
Thank you, Agatha for sharing your journal entry. I too keep a labyrinth journal. I only go to a labyrinth once or twice a year because I want each experience to be a gathering of the inner thoughts and growth that have accumulated since the last time. Each experience is unique and the completion really shows me the labyrinthine progression of my life.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. For those who have not had the joy of walking a labyrinth, I suggest they go to Google and find one in their home town. I walked my first in San Francisco at the Cathedral. It was a Chartes Labyrinth. I will never been the same having done that walk.