I’ve taken this title from a CD by Matthew Fox (Radical Prayer, Love in Action) because it suggests to me the idea of deepening and expanding our idea of prayer. Probably the most common way we think about prayer—at least I did for a long time—is that portrayed in the photograph (courtesy of a friend, the Internet, and a little Photoshop). Hopefully we’re lucky enough to have a dog to pray with us! My own understanding and practice of prayer has been enhanced and enriched by the wisdom and perspectives expressed below that I have gathered in my explorations of prayer.
Fr. Carl Arico, Contemplative Outreach:
"As you know prayer is a relationship with our God. Like any relationship there are different aspects, so in prayer, there are prayers expressing sorrow, prayers expressing thanksgiving, adoration and prayers expressing petitions (asking for something). Depending on the circumstances of life these different prayers are used at different times, but they are directed to the same God.
"So what is the bottom line of our prayer? I believe it is this: 'Lord, send down upon me all the graces and blessings you want for me in this situation. Give me the grace to be able to deal with this as you wish. Amen.' Then step back and see what happens; it is a leap of trust that all will be well."
Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB, says giving your attention to what is before you is praying. Attending to the present moment is a prayer. He also says that prayer reduces the inflammation of the ego.
Mary Oliver, poet:
"I don't know what a prayer is,
but I do know how to pay attention."
Tessa Bielecki, The Desert Foundation:
Prayer is “ . . . raising the heart and mind to God."
Carolyn Baker, author of Navigating the Coming Chaos:
She says there are lots of ways to pray: performing a ritual, giving thanks, surrendering to a challenge, crying out for help, service. For the artist, writer, musician, actor, dancer, her / his craft may be a prayer.
Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation:
"When Paul says to 'pray always' (1 Thessalonians 5:17), he can’t mean to walk around saying the 'Our Father' and 'Hail Mary' all day. Prayer is basically a total life stance. It is a way of being present in the world in which we are present to the Presence and present to the Presence in all things. In a certain sense, you either pray always (or almost always) or you do not pray at all.
"Once you recognize that it’s all right here, right now, then you’ll carry that awareness everywhere. How you do anything is how you do everything."
Fr. Richard says that prayer, more than anything, seeks, creates, and preserves relationship with God and with others, and that prayer is "merging, dancing, participation."
Simone Weil, French religious philosopher:
"Prayer is paying attention."
Thomas Merton said that for him to pray was "to breathe and look around."
Matthew Fox, spiritual theologian, founder of the University of Creation Spirituality, author of Original Blessing:
Matthew Fox passionately speaks to us about prayer being our openness to, and celebration of the Universe all around and within us. He calls us to feel, to experience, and to express our awe and wonderment and amazement at this Universe, to revel in the immensity, the intensity, and the intimacy of it all. It is this reconnection with our cosmology that will lead us to create a just and sustainable world for all
Kathleen Norris, poet, essayist, author of Amazing Grace, A Vocabulary of Faith:
"I learned that prayer is not asking for what you think you want but asking to be changed in ways you can’t imagine."
"The best ‘how to’ I know is from Psalm 46: Be still and know that I am God."
"Prayer is not doing, but being."
"Prayer is not a grocery list we hand to God. It is ordinary experience lived with gratitude and wonder, the wonder that makes us know the smallness of oneself in an enormous and various universe."
"And sometimes ordinary conversation reveal themselves as prayer."
(This is exactly what happened when my friend, Lisa, said to me “We see each other into being,” and I wrote this poem from that first line.)
We see each other into being
with visions of a greater dream.
We dare each other to awake
with challenges our souls to make.
I see you now, but brighter still,
the lofty dream as yet to fill.
Now do not turn away, my friend,
And dare not heed the call within.
It’s yours to see the choice to make,
and yours to pick which road to take.
Still I cry, for our Earth’s sake,
and pray you dance the dream awake.
Contemplative Outreach and Centering Prayer
The Desert Foundation / Sand & Sky Desert Voices
Center for Action and Contemplation
The Dream poem was made into a card and is listed under Cards
on the Desert Rose Press website.
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