Prayer – What is Prayer?

Prayer – What is Prayer?

What is Prayer? Prayer is an intimate two-way conversation with God and/or the saints.  Like the conversation in all human relationships prayer can be very different for different people, and indeed for the one person over time as the relationship develops.  At its core prayer is our response to God’s invitation to friendship and involves both talking and listening.  Most of us have been taught to say prayers rather than pray.  In terms of human relationship it is a bit like learning love poetry which is then recited to one’s lover compared with engaging in a heart to heart conversation with them, or even simply sitting together in companionable silence.   There are many ways to begin a prayer journey and as many ways of praying as there are persons.  Some important things to note about praying: v  Choose a suitable time and place each day, being realistic about what is possible for you. v  Create an atmosphere in simple ways with candle, music, statue, picture, bible, etc v  Find a comfortable position and come to a stillness by listening to sounds, listening to your own breathing, etc   Some ways of praying include:
  • Beginning with the prayers that have been learnt, eg the Our Father, and rather than simply recite them to deliberate over them line by line, let them speak to and for you.
  • Taking a scene from the gospels and, using your imagination, place yourself in that scene.  How do you engage with others in the scene?   Talk with Jesus, God about the experience. Praying the Rosary or the Stations of the Cross, for example, in this way is time-honoured way of journeying with Jesus and Mary.
  • Taking a passage from scripture that maybe does not lend itself to imagining yourself in it and pray it using the ancient practice of ‘lectio divina’, which literally means ‘holy reading’.  In this method one reads the passage chosen, reflects, responds and rests with it in God.
  • Linked to ‘lectio divina’ is Centring Prayer repeating eg the name Jesus or Maranatha, etc.
Gracious leave-taking, as in any relationship, and reflection on the prayer experience are also important aspects of prayer.  It can also be helpful to journal the reflected experience of what happened during prayer, your feelings about what was going on and how God and you were present/absent from each other.