Prayer is standing in the presence of God with the mind in the heart; that is, at the point of our being where there are no divisions or distinctions and where we are totally one. ~ Henry Nouwen
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: habits that nurture spiritual growth; exercises unto godliness
PRAYER: personal conversations with God; expressing our concerns and listening to His response.
The season of Lent is a wonderful time to consider our prayer life. Most of us would be embarrassed to admit how little time we spend praying. With all the advances of our day it seems we could find more time for prayer. However, today's technologies often bring more distractions unto madness. Rather than bring guilt, I come with possible solutions and maybe a new perspective that can help usher us into a place of solace where The Source of Peace awaits.
Sometimes it seems like praying is a waste of time; we feel like our thoughts are floating out into the universe. But as our prayer life goes, so goes our spiritual growth. Prayer isn't just about our own godliness. As warriors in the spiritual battle, without prayer we fight unprepared and defensless. Something that has been very convicting to me is to think about people of other religious beliefs... Hindu and Muslims pray multiple times per day at set increments.
Shouldn't we Christians be as devoted to our prayer time?For the last year I've been learning about Benedictine Monasticism. As a way of living out the command to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) the monastic pray the Liturgy of the Hours seven times per day. St. Benedict teaches that by returning portions of our most precious gift of time, we are practicing a basic form of hospitality to God; making room in our schedule for the entertainment of God's Presence. It is from that divine foundation that other forms of hospitality derive. Wow! How can we not want to pray after that?
This apparent "wasting" of time on God is the wisest possible use of this precious gift!
Often we do everything but pray. We want something more "substantial." Even studying the Bible, going to church, talking to the pastor or receiving counsel seems more tangible than prayer. But it's time to roll away the stone of prayerlessness. It's the most prohibitive obstacle on the road to a believer's victory. ~ Beth Moore
Types of PrayerThere are many ways to pray but today we are going to focus on Contemplative prayer.
Contemplative Prayer: a receptive waiting with hearts awake to God's presence and His Word.
Breath Prayer: is a form of contemplative prayer that is linked to the rhythm of our breathing. When we breath in we call on a biblical name or image of God, and when we breath out a simple God-given desire. This is one of my favorite types of prayer to use as I'm going to sleep at night.
Breath in: "Holy One," breath out "keep me true."
Breath in "Lord Jesus," breath out "have mercy on me."
Centering Prayer: is a form of contemplative prayer where one seeks to quiet the scattered thoughts and find stillness in Christ's presence. By centering prayer on simple words like Jesus, Father, love, peace, or a phrase from Scripture. With these words we linger with God and open our hearts to His presence.
Postures of Prayer
In what position is it best to pray? Here are a few biblical postures for prayer:
- Walking: a nature walk can be a sweet time of companionship with the Father.
- Standing: is a way of giving honor to the majesty of God
- Outstretched Arms: opens the core of our body up toward God.
- Prostrate: lying face down puts us in a place of submission and obedience.
- Kneeling: expresses reverence and humility before God.
Final ThoughtsI'm not here by any means as an expert in prayer, quite the contrary. I am on my own spiritual journey and only wish to share the things God teaches me.
As for prayer, I have found that setting aside a specific time helps me tremendously. If it works out today, great. If not, I'll try better tomorrow. Another thing, when God brings a certain person to my mind, I take that as a prompt to pray for them. A few helpful points...
- Set a regular scheduled time for prayer.
- Before praying, listen for guidance first.
- Pray with expectation!
We each have to find what works best for our schedules, personality types and temperament. The most important thing is that we take time to companion with our heavenly Father.
As we put these habits into practice prayer continues within us as we are go about our day. Prayer become the active presence of God's Spirit guiding us through life.
Take a moment to pray with this beautiful song by Celine Dion and Josh Groban http://youtu.be/jhxIjRO6Wj
RESOURCES:Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney
So You Want To Be Like Christ? by Charles R. Swindoll
The Way of the Heart by Henri J. Nouwen