The Heart and Soul of Prayer; An introduction
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
The Southwest Kansas Catholic is beginning a series of articles on prayer. If you think this should be an easy read about the joy and simplicity of talking to God, you’d be right.
But you know how we tend to over-complicate things. Which is why when addressing prayer, we bring up all sorts of things, like Ignatian Contemplation, Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Adoration, Petition, and Intercession.
Fortunately, these are just variations of the same theme: feeling God’s presence in the moment, listening to Him, speaking to Him.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” -- 1 Chronicles 16:11
Bishop John Brungardt has asked that this series be more of a practical guide, “not too theological.”
Prayer, he said, means
- being aware of the presence of God.
- having an intimate encounter with God.
- and communication (speaking-head and heart, and listening-head and heart) with God.
In the coming issues, this series will delve into how one can better achieve that closeness with God through various forms of prayer. (For me, it’s always the one-on-one, conversation, simply speaking and simply listening. For others, it’s the Rosary that draws them closest to Christ, or while in Adoration.)
What is your favorite form of prayer? What do you focus on when you pray?
“What happens when you pray?,” asks Father James Martin, S.J., in an article in America, The Jesuit Review magazine.
“You can experience powerful emotions, surprising insights and consoling memories. You can also experience feelings, both physical and otherwise.
“Sometimes when you’re praying, you might feel physically more relaxed,” he continues. “That’s quite common. It may be a physiological response to simply slowing down from what may be a busy life, but, more often than not, it’s much more than that.
“We are not just purely spiritual beings, and so God communicates to us through our bodies as well. That’s part of our own incarnation. So pay attention to those physical feelings in prayer.
“At the same time, you may also experience feelings in prayer that are hard to name. Sometimes it can feel like a confusing mix of feelings. Sometimes people say to me, ‘Well, I felt happy and sad at once.’ Or ‘I felt a sense of confusion about what my life was going to be like, but at the same time I knew it would be fine.’
“It’s okay if you can’t precisely say what you’re feeling. Just because you can’t describe it doesn’t mean that it’s not real. And it doesn’t mean that it’s not coming from God.
“So just ask yourself: What might God be telling me through these feelings? And trust that God will help you, in time, to understand them.”