When we think of prayer we often visualize someone kneeling, hands together, eyes closed, silently reciting her/his prayers. This is only one of many forms of prayer.
Reciting traditional prayers, like The Our Father, Hail Mary or The Rosary, is one way to pray and deepen our relationship with our Lord. Since we learn many traditional prayers early on and know them by heart, sometimes it takes effort to truly reflect on what we are reciting and not just go through the motions of saying the words.
Conversational prayer is like praying freestyle. Simply talk to God as if heís right here beside you. And really, he is. Ask him for what you need. Thank him for your blessings. Share your successes, your failures, your fears, your hopes, your dreams. Ask for guidance. Pray for those you love. For those you know need to be lifted up.
We can not only go straight to our Lord with our prayers, but we also can ask all the Saints in heaven to pray for us as well. Just like we ask those we know here on earth to pray for us.
Contemplative prayer is a form of prayer where we open our mind and our heart, our whole being, to God. Contemplative prayer goes beyond thoughts, words and emotions. It is a method of internal purification that can draw us to divine union. One form of contemplative prayer is centering prayer.
Admiring Godís creation is another way to pray. When I was on a college retreat a priest (actually Fr. Jac Campbell, founder of Landings and a dear friend) led us in a prayer exercise. He recited an Indian prayer which I wish I had asked him for and Iíve not been able to find since then! We stood up and each part of the prayer began with looking to the east, the west, the north, and the south. Then Fr. Jac told us to go outside and admire the surroundings. Admire Godís creation. We happened to be in the gorgeous foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. And what an awesome experience in prayer that was!
No matter where you are, even in the big city, look around and admire Godís creation. A bird flying in the sky. A gentle breeze blowing the leaves of a tree. Children laughing and playing on a playground. The smile of a stranger. The beauty and rushing sounds of a waterfall. If you have a special place you love Ė such as the mountains (like me!) or the beach Ė go there and admire the beauty of Godís creation around you. If you canít get to your favorite place, close your eyes and imagine you are there.
As Catholics, as Christians, daily prayer enriches our spiritual lives and all forms of prayer can strengthen our relationship with our Lord.
Peace in Christ,
© Melissa Knoblett-Aman