Affirmation: I pray unceasingly.
Do you pray? How do you pray? Are your prayers silent or out loud? Do you only pray when you go to church? How about before meals? Maybe you only pray before meals in your home, never out in public? Maybe your prayers are only in the evening before bedtime, like many of us were trained to do as a child. Maybe you make up your own words, or maybe you only use the rote prayers of your faith. As you can see there are many forms of prayers, some might even say their best prayer is when they are on the golf course or watching a football game. “God, help me get over this water!" "Lord, please be with our team today." Some wouldn’t even use the name of God. Perhaps, their faith won’t allow that or perhaps their faith leads them to only a universal concept like, the Divine or the Universe. Of course, we also have those people who don’t believe in prayer at all and think it a waist their time. This may not be the blog they will want to read. That’s ok. I think they are praying every time they send their energy out into the world with their thoughts, or into their bodies with their intentions.
Recently, I read, "Ron DelBene’s Breath of Life Series: A Simple Way to Pray (The Jesus Prayer). To tell the truth, I didn’t expect to learn much from this tiny book but I am presently in the midst of training to become a certified spiritual director at the Haden Institute in Hendersonville, NC (I mentioned it In my last blog, Walking the Camino.) and I have a list of monthly assignments. This was one of the suggested. As usual, I was wrong; wrong, wrong, and wrong!
If you’ve been following this blog, you already know I am a prayer warrior. I pray all day and I have lots of tools to help me with that. I have all those memorized prayers most Catholics learn as children and several I’ve memorized as an adult. I have the one I wrote myself that I occasionally use before I journal. I have the Rosary which I always say as I walk the lake and if not then, during some quiet time in the afternoon. I have Sunday Mass. There’s grace and my ujjayi yoga breath to which I add the name of Jesus. So you see, I’m pretty immersed in a prayer life but I know there is always lots of room for me to improve my relationship with the Lord. It's my life's primary focus, especially now as I move closer to meeting Him.
In fact at the Haden training this last weekend we were handed a picture of a tree and the title was "Contemplative Practices." There are several branches: stillness, generative, creative, activist, relational, movement and ritual/cyclical. It would appear according to this diagram that almost any form of activity can fall into a contemplative category as long as one is wholly present to their actions. I’m sure that’s true but I still feel most of us will benefit from finding a way to silence and stillness. It’s a busy noisy world out there and "in here" and to take some time and just be, can be life changing. In fact, it has now been scientifically proven that the part of brain that deals with stress changes with meditation and we respond with less tension and anxiety.
Ron DelBrene’s book was for me like discovering a magic lamp, with a genie inside. The genie popped out and I was asked to make a wish, only one. Oh, what was so important to me that I would want to focus on it all the time? Ron suggests you find a short phrase that you use as an all-day prayer. He recommends it be around six words or so. You then repeat it throughout your entire day. You can say it at a red light, standing in line, waiting in a doctor’s office, walking to you employment, in the shower. Anywhere, anytime is the perfect time. You "rub the magic lamp" and you actually ask, "God, what prayer would best serve our relationship?" You take some of that quiet time I just mentioned and you listen. What phrase comes to mind? For now, that’s the prayer. Sure, you can change it. You can tweek it but for now, own the words that you have been gifted. Breathe in, deep breath and let them settle into your heart and your spirit. Give the prayer a few days to take root and then be prepared for when it begins to blossom. That’s when you’ll know the "genie" has heard your one wish and it is being manifested. The prayer isn’t for anyone or anything other than yourself. Selfish, you think? Remember the Prayer of Saint Francis? "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." Until we change ourselves to be centered in the gifts of the Sprit; love, joy, peace, hope, compassion and generosity, nothing outside of us will ever change. Let God take up full time residence within, you only need ask, and then throw away that lamp because now the miracle of finding God within will bring about the miracle of revealing God without and I believe life will never again be the same.
Give it a try. If you like, write me and share your prayer and anything else that manifests from your newest practice.
"Holy Spirit, fill me with Your pure love."