Welcome to the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Reflection: Pray

Pray_RedPrayer is about our relationship to God. Like any relationship, it requires time. Some of us are used to praying on the run, but our relationship with God cannot flourish unless we find time to be fully present to God: speaking and listening to one another, sharing silence or beauty, delight or sorrow. Intimacy grows when we invest in this kind of quality time – both in human relationships and in our relationship with God. There is truth in the familiar phrase, “If we’re too busy to pray, we’re too busy.”

We must pray for no less a reason than our life depends on it. Jesus promised to give us life, abundant life, yet we will only realize this promise when we live in sync with God on God’s terms, on God’s time. Talking about God and time is a paradox: Time is created by God, yet God is not subject to time. God is timeless, however we can only experience God in time. And, miraculously, we do! There are moments in our life when we actually get in touch with the timelessness of God. Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” God comes to us in time and space, in the now. This is why moments of prayer and worship are so important: In the midst of time, we actually perceive the Timeless that intersects the now. Prayer opens the space needed for that encounter.

 

You don’t need to live in a monastery to set aside time for prayer. In fact, the busier we are, the more we must not let our schedule get in the way of demarcating sacred time. Francis de Sales, the great 17th century spiritual director observed: “Half an hour’s listening is essential except when you are very busy. Then a full hour is needed.” The more the tyranny of the urgent demands your time, the more time it will take to stay centered in the ground of your being, to remain rooted in your relationship with God.

Try this: On a daily basis, set aside some time when you will be simply and fully present to God. There is an ancient monastic phrase, vacare Deo, which is about being empty for God, being at leisure or available to God.

In the morning: Many people find it most meaningful to vacare Deo first thing in the morning, perhaps even before getting out of bed. (Resist the urge to turn on your phone or check your email first!) Decide how much time you will spend each day, and stick with that time every day. You might light a candle, or start the day with a prayer of praise, gratitude, self-offering, or intercession. If you read from the Psalms, or make your way through a passage of Scripture, jot down a word or phrase that stands out to you, and keep it in your pocket throughout the day. You might find journaling a useful way to connect with God. Write a few sentences to capture your thoughts, fears, hopes, desires, thanksgivings.

At the midday:  Claim some moments in the middle of the day to once again give God your full attention. This need not be elaborate. You might sit for a few minutes, consciously being still in the presence of God. Pray with your breathing. Breathe in what you need – hope, strength, joy, love – and breathe out anything that is clogging your soul – fear, despair, anger, temptation.  Or if you wrote down a word or phrase in your morning meditation, return to it again. This midday connection will reawaken what you received from God in the morning. Enter again into that experience of grace in the middle of the day, whether you’re full of light and joy, or when you’re stressed or distracted.

In the evening:  Save some time to reflect on the day that has passed. Claim and name your gratitude; acknowledge where you missed the mark; ask God to take whatever residue may be weighing on you, and then rest in peace.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

6 Comments

  1. Joan on March 7, 2015 at 10:59

    I’m still catching up on this series, and did respond earlier regarding priority – and my priority of prayer was at the time I retire for the evening – I give thanks for all that has been done for me by God and for my family – I praise him and then I present any needs for myself and those known to me. I seem to need the solitude of the night to be able to reflect on God’s goodness. Certainly during extreme stress at any time – I make my quiet prayer to Him and at certain times, I utter a heartfelt “Thank you God”.

  2. Sally Baynton on March 1, 2015 at 10:24

    I loved this! I absolutely agree with what was said here. For example, I was skiing this weekend with my son. I am 63-years-old and haven’t skied in a long, long time. When we were going up the lift, I thanked God for the beauty of His creation… trust me, San Antonio, TX bears no resemblance to the beauty of the Colorado mountains. I thanked Him for his provision of nature to delight us. And, I asked him for His protection throughout the day. Those were not meaningless prayers. When we came back to the room, I meditated on Him and prayed in a contemplative manner. Both are equally precious in His sight.

  3. Sally Baynton on February 28, 2015 at 18:55

    Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Charlotte Williams on February 24, 2015 at 13:30

    An ABC OF SOME OF THE NAMES OF CHRIST JESUS

    Amen, Anchor, Author, Baptizer, Beginning, Beloved Friend, Bishop, Bridegroom, Chief Shepherd, Comforter, Counselor, Covenant, Cross, Crown, Day Star, Deliverer, Discerner, Emmanuel, Everlasting Commander, First and Last, Governor, Grace, Green Tree, Guide, Head, Holy Pattern, Hope of Glory, Husband, Inward, Judge, Justice, Judgement, Joy, King, Lamb, Leader, Light, Living Presence, Living Stone, Mediator, One, Head, Orderer, Overseer, Peace, Prophet, Priest, Quickening Spirit, Refreshment, Redeemer, Reconciler, Ransom, Reason, Redeemer, Resurrection, Rest, Revelation, Righteous, Root, Rose, Sanctuary, Savior, Second Adam, Seed, Shepherd, Sun of Righteousness, Shield and Buckler, Sign and wonder, Son of God, Sufferer, Teacher, Top-stone, Truth, Unity, Universal, Vine, Victory, Way, Wisdom, Word, eXample, Yoke

    CHRIST IS SUFFICIENT; CHRIST IS THE ANSWER.

    Believe in Jesus Christ for there is no true ANCHOR to the immortal soul but by Him; no divine reason but in that Faith which He is the AUTHOR of.
    Beloved Friend Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. KJV 1577

    In Him be faithful, who is our CROWN. Let no man take our glorious CROWN from us.

    We have a Light which we do well to take heed unto, that shines in a dark place, until the Day dawn and the DAY STAR arise in our hearts.

    EVERLASTING COMMANDER who says love our enemies.

    FIRST and the Last, the Top and Cornerstone. In him sit down in Life, Peace and Rest.

    GOVERNOR who governs His Church in righteousness.

    None comes to be children of the Light but by receiving Christ, the HOPE OF GLORY.

    Christ sets up an INWARD, spiritual ministry, a spiritual worship and Fellowship, a Church without spot or wrinkle and a religion that is pure from above.

    Every one of us hear His voice that speaks from heaven. In him we shall know that which cannot be shaken. There is the true JOY.

    KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS, LAMB. Let Him rule and reign in all our hearts by Faith.

    Deliverer, MEDIATOR, and intercessor who makes Peace between everyone and God.

    Never be ashamed of the Bishop who is the OVERSEER of our souls.

    PROPHET, to open to us, a PRIEST forever to sanctify us, an everlasting PREACHER, whom God has anointed to preach Grace, Life, Salvation and Truth to us. PROMISE, who opens and none can shut.

    The QUICKENING Spirit and ROCK of our age and ages, the Lord from heaven.

    REDEEMER RECONCILER RANSOM REASON RESURRECTION REST REVELATION RIGHTEOUS ROOT ROSE RULER

    And there is the SAFE SITTING in Christ, the new and living Way, the Word of God, the Power of God, the Light, the Life and Truth, the first, the last, the beginning, the ending, in whom is no shadow of turnings nor variableness. The saints sit in Christ, the head, and there are the exceeding riches and kindness known again.

    Christ the SEED never changes but stands steadfast and distinct from everything that changes. Dwell in this immortal SEED of God who is to have Dominion in all of us.

    Sit under our universal TEACHER who brings us the grace of God.

    All dwell in Christ Jesus who is UNCHANGEABLE so that we come to judge all the changeable ways and worship.

    Death is swallowed up in VICTORY. For by man, namely Adam, came death and by man, namely Christ, came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ shall all be made alive.

    Keep under the WINGS of Christ who destroys the destroyers.

    Take Christ as our eXample that there be no strife among us; take Christ as our eXample and cry, “Father forgive them.” eXalt Him in our churches.

    Collar the oxen, bridle the horses, tame the wild heifer. Bring us to Christ’s YOKE so that we may see our way of salvation.

    Be clothed with the ZEAL of Christ and stand against all that is contrary to the Light.

  5. David Roman on February 21, 2015 at 05:22

    During this season of repentance, as I reflect on my conduct, seeking pardon for my transgressions and assurance of our Heavenly Father’s unfailing love, I offer as my Lenten Sacrifice this daily prayer: That the Holy Spirit might open my heart and enable me to see the face of Jesus crucified in all those whom I have undervalued, those whose beliefs and traditions are dissimilar to mine, those whose attitudes and actions are adversarial and even hostile to my well being, that I may come to know the presence of God in all his creation, and thus participate in the great reconciliation that He has planned and is accomplishing here and now. Through the mercy of Christ our Lord. Amen.

  6. anne on February 19, 2015 at 07:20

    This is a meaningful article. I will try to utilize its suggestions. I began discovering ways to connect with God later in life (am 69) and find myself racing to make up for lost time. Perhaps it’s not important to race, but I feel there is so much I need to learn.

Leave a Comment