Reviving our prayer lives
One of the challenges God presents us with is to decide, each day, how alive we’re willing to be.
It’s easy, in our faith lives, to begin to do things by rote, with tired ritual and lukewarm hearts. Our prayers become less. When this happens, it’s important to revive the intentions with which we pray and enliven the way we encounter the holy.
For those seeking to add more flavor to their prayer lives so that they can move out into the world as salt and as light, here are a few suggestions:
Pray aloud. If you’re used to praying silently, lift your voice. Pray out loud, really out loud. Shout Hosanna. Sing a Hallelujah or two at the top of your voice. Call upon God with joy or need, longing, wonder or whatever emotion is appropriate – but call with your full voice.
Or, if your used to praying aloud, slip into a deep silence. Whisper your prayers, and let God fill in the in-between spaces and moments. Let the silence echo, then listen.
Create a sacred space that is yours alone. Clear out the clutter, make it a place that holds only the things you love. Light it in some special way. Bring in the furniture or things that allow you to assume the posture in which you feel most comfortable. Hang up a picture or some other object that catapults your spirit into a special place. While you pray, close out the world in this God-filled space.
Stop separating your prayer life from the rest of your life. Assume a Celtic theology in which you find God in every activity you undertake and everything you encounter. When your feet hit the floor in the morning, begin communicating God. Invoke God with the words of St. Patrick’s Breastplate: "Christ beside me, Christ before me; Christ behind me, Christ within me; Christ beneath me, Christ above me; Christ within me." Be enfolded by God and speak all that fills your heart and mind.
Pray the Psalms or other Bible passages, but make it very personal. Insert yourself into the text, even adding your name, so that the Scripture speaks to your story. Some passages to think about include Isaiah 43:1-3 (Do not fear); Jeremiah 18:1-6 (The potter and the clay); James 1:2-4 (Testing leads to maturity); Psalm 9 (Gratitude) and Psalm 139 (Fearfully and wonderfully made).
"Laborare est orare," or "work is prayer," is a guiding principle of the Benedictine tradition that joins prayer with labor. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty for a job. Serve and let each gesture rise as a way of communicating with and honoring God.
- Listen. Pay attention. If God is in the details, it’s important to not miss the wonder when one gets caught up in "the big picture." Appreciate. Learn. Let all that you see and experience filter back into your prayers.