Depth takes time. God has all the time in the world. Though we live in a culture that so highly values instant access to everything, at least in the spiritual realm, we can only bear a little at a time. God is certainly not in a rush.
HoW do you pray? Many of us presume that how we pray isn’t the right way – that we should pray better, or differently. Dom John Chapman, an English Benedictine monk and spiritual director, counseled someone who was convinced they were not praying “rightly”: “Pray as you can, not as you cannot.” One of our SSJE ancestors, Father Calloway – who was revered for his discipline of spiritual practices – described his prayer, “I kneel down beside my bed and hope for the best.” And so it is for all of us. As monks, our life is marked by the rounds of prayer we call the “Divine Office,” that holy “work” that punctuates the hours of our day. And in our cells, we each pray as the Spirit moves us. Each of us prays in ways as unique as God’s ongoing revelation to us.
So how can you pray? You might try praying with icons, with a candle, with incense; using prayer beads, perhaps praying the Rosary or the Jesus Prayer; praying with tears; praying with your eyes open or closed; praying by writing; praying with gestures of your body or with dance; praying with your breath; praying while you walk; praying in stillness and silence, or praying with music; pray using words, yours or someone else’s, Scripture, or poetry; pray with your dreams or with the gift of tongues; pray inside in a holy place or pray outside; pray alone or with other individuals or in a congregation; pray while you work. There is no right way or place or time to pray.
If we understand prayer chiefly as our relationship with God, our prayer will come in many forms and will grow and change. What is prompting you to pray now – and how? Respond to that invitation, which is God’s invitation. And then, as in every relationship, don’t do all the talking. Listen.
God’s invitation to us is to pray our life – not our “spiritual life.” God has given us the gift of life, all of it, and so we pray our whole life. There’s nothing too great or too small.