Prayer - What is it? Is it to implore, to raise one's arms to heaven asking God to intervene in our lives?
Well it can be, but it is more than that Ignatian spirituality offers a way of praying which is both concrete and personal. It is a method of prayer that each person can make their own, that will help them to grow in their relationship with God.
In this way, we can contemplate the loving face of God in all things; in the beauty of life around us, in a work of art, in a biblical story, and in my life lived and reflected on in the light of His goodness.
Prayer is an appointment with the Lord. To organise it, you can :
- Put this appointment in your diary like you put all the other appointments.
- Have a “prayer corner” in the room where you can put a picture of Christ, a candle.
- Start gradually, and not with long prayer times.
Our busy lives make it difficult for us to enter into prayer! This is normal. I must take the time to put myself in the presence of the Lord, to present myself to him as I am, to welcome his gaze on me, to listen to him ask me “How are you? “and take the time to answer him. And that is already praying!
Of course! To pray is to enter into a relationship with the Lord. We learn to enter into a relationship with Him and to be able to cultivate that relationship. In the beginning, we are a little distant, like the Little Prince with the fox. Little by little, we get closer and we tame each other!
Yes! Prayer is the relationship with the Lord and in this relativisation we can grow in friendship, familiarity, trust, the ability to listen, to be true, to commit ourselves
There are several forms of prayer: listening to the Word of God, rereading the day or life, prayer with the five senses, with breathing, with one’s life …. What is common to these different ways of praying is that one is engaged with one’s whole being in the relationship: with the intelligence, the will, the affectivity, the body, the memory. And through these different channels, we allow ourselves to be touched by the Lord who comes to meet us.
As in any relationship, at the moment of the encounter, we are caught up in what we are experiencing. It is only afterwards, when we think about what has happened, that we become aware of what we have experienced. In prayer, it is the same thing. It is only afterwards, when I reread what I have lived, that I become aware of what the Lord has told me and how I have been affected by this meeting..
In the prayer book, I can write down what I experienced in the meeting: what Word touched me and how, what grace I asked for and what grace I received. Writing allows me to keep track of my journey, to see how I have grown, to distance myself from what I have experienced, to take an objective look.
It can be a way of sharing one’s faith with others, and it can also be a support, especially when praying alone is more difficult.
"Nine Reasons to Pray," a new excerpt from "Learning to Pray", a guide for everyone by James Martin
There are as many reasons to pray as there are people. But as one of the world’s best-loved Christian writers explains, all are different ways of responding to an invitation from God
Why pray? Let me suggest the first reason: God wants to be in a relationship with you. How can you know this? Because you want to pray. And how do I know that? Because you’re reading this.
That may sound sarcastic, but it’s not. There’s a serious point here: your desire for prayer reveals something about how God created you. Deep within you is a natural desire to communicate with God, to share yourself with God, to have God hear your voice, or, more basically, to encounter God. Deep within you is a longing to be in a relationship with God. So you long to pray.
You may doubt many things when it comes to prayer. You may doubt that you’ll be able to pray. You may doubt that God wants to communicate with you. You may even doubt God’s existence. But you cannot doubt that you feel a desire for prayer. After all, you’re reading this. So clearly something within you desires prayer.
James Martin SJ is editor at large of America magazine, consultor to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, and author of numerous books, including The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.