How And When Should We Pray?
I'm going to conclude my reflections on prayer this morning with some thoughts on when and how to pray. I hope you have enjoyed these reflections, and that they have been helpful.
It's surprising how many people ask me if I have advice on how and when to pray. I'm often humbled by this, because I feel inside as though I'm the furthest thing from an expert on the subject.
But still, it speaks to how so many of us struggle to know just what to say in our prayers--beyond the traditional prayers like The Lord's Prayer, or prayers we learned when we were children.
Many of us also haven't a clue about the best time to pray either, and typically we end up praying in moments, and mostly petitions at that ("God, help me get out of this mess..." "God, if you could just fix this..." "Help!!")
Here's something I'm learning that I can share. It starts with an awesome quote from the 12th century theologian and mystic, Meister Eckhart:
God is not attained by a process of addition to anything in the soul, but by a process of subtraction.How does this help? Simple. The more noise and clutter you can eliminate from your life, the more open you become to the Divine rhythms all around you.
When you begin to subtract things from your schedule, your life, your head space... you begin to see space for quiet and solitude where before there had been nothing but busyness.
And then you can actually think more deeply about what you would like to say in your prayers.
Perhaps you can actually have a conversation with God. Try it. Just talk as you would to a friend. Journal if that makes more sense to you. But try praying what is on your heart, listening in the quiet, letting your spirit discover the grace in the world around you.
If you struggle with this, find a prayer book that has a nice selection of prayers in it that you can read out loud, or to yourself. There's absolutely nothing wrong with reading a prayer that has been carefully written.
Or, find a single, simple prayer to pray over and over again to center yourself. My go-to centering prayer is from Luke 18:38 when a blind man cries out to Jesus for healing by saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me."
May you let go of what you need to be free of today in order to enjoy a deeper conversation with God. May you find freedom in your prayers to be heart-forward and open.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.