Observing your own practices and hopes in relation to God
Of all the elements of a Rule of Life, those dealing with our relationship with God are the most important. God is the source and the center of our lives as people of faith. During this phase, we will be exploring ways in which we can develop and grow our relationship with God in prayer. Prayer is our lifeblood. It is what binds us to God and God to us. Jesus came to offer us abundant life, and through his teaching and example, he has shown us that prayer is a wonderful way to come home to God and to receive that life which is his promise to each one of us.
A reading from The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist on ‘Prayer and Life’: Reflect on how this reading might inform your own life of prayer.
God the Holy Spirit longs to inspire in us prayer that includes and embraces the whole of our life. It is a great privilege to be called to the religious life, which offers us every opportunity and encouragement to welcome the Spirit’s transforming grace so that prayer may enter more and more into all that we are and all that we do.
Resisting the tendency to restrict prayer to set times, we are to aim at Eucharistic living that is responsive at all times and in all places to the divine presence. We should seek the gifts which help us to pray without ceasing. The Spirit offers us the gift of attentiveness by which we discern signs of God’s presence and action in creation, in other people and in the fabric of ordinary existence. We are called to spiritual freedom by which we surrender fretfulness and anxiety in order to be available to God in the present moment. There is the gift of spontaneity, which gives rise to frequent brief prayers throughout the day in which we look to Christ and express our faith, hope and love. There is the gift of prompt repentance, which encourages us to turn to God and ask for forgiveness the instant we become aware of a fall. Through these and other like gifts, prayer comes to permeate our life and transfigure our mundane routines.
The life of prayer calls for the courage to bring into our communion with Christ the fullness of our humanity and the concrete realities of our daily existence, which he redeemed by his incarnation. We are called to offer all our work to God and ask for the graces we need to do it in Christ’s name. In our prayer we are to test whether God is confirming our intentions and desires or not. We are able to pray about one another, our relationships and common endeavors. We are to bring him our sufferings and poverty, our passion and sexuality, our fears and resistances, our desires and our dreams, our losses and grief. We must spread before him our cares about the world and its peoples, our friends and families, our enemies and those from whom we are estranged. Our successes and failures, our gifts and shortcomings, are equally the stuff of our prayer. We are to offer the night to God as well as the day, our unconscious selves as well as our conscious minds, acknowledging the secret and unceasing workings of the Spirit in the depths of our hearts.
This deep intention at the heart of our life to find God in all things means learning to trust that divine companionship continues undiminished even when we feel only boredom and frustration. We can learn to stay still in our experience of numbness and resistance, and trust that Christ is just as truly alive in our hearts in these times as in those in which we enjoy the sense of his presence.
Exercise: My Garden Plot
Spend time now reflecting on your relationship with God. Download and use the exercise to map out how your garden is currently growing. Consider too, how you would like it to grow. Respond to the questions in each section with drawings and creative expressions. Start with the soil, move on to the plants, and end with the sky. Have fun, get out your art supplies, and let your creative spirit come alive!
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