Thursday, February 3, 2011

on simple prayer

If we are to make prayer a daily practice, we best make it a simple practice. It is better to repeat one simple prayer all day than to leave off praying altogether—I too often do this! Better to pray the same short prayer at breakfast, lunch and dinner each day than to pray one long prayer solely in times of crisis. Try praying “Give us this day our daily bread” at 10 in the morning, so you can pray “Thank you for giving us our daily bread” at lunchtime.

“Your will be done” is a beautiful prayer. Prayed with all one’s heart, those four words delight the Father no end. Seeing as we are forgetful, such a prayer begs repetition, I think.

If you insist on originality, don’t let writer’s block stop you from praying. Simply pick a prayer that has already been written and set your imagination loose on oral interpretation. Souls have teeth; chew on prayer. St. Francis’ prayer “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace” can do just fine. Say it slowly, say it quietly, or say it loudly. Speak it in unison with others or say it individually. Write it out or set a tune to it. You can even speak it in Pig Latin. Be creative!

If you find yourself saying the same words each time you pray, don’t worry. Prayer consists of the voices of two lovers. When one is truly beloved, one discovers that all words are simply creative variations on “I love you.” We delight to hear those words over and over again, so why not say them to God over and over again—He does so with us. A simple soul inclined to God is very creative in God’s eyes for it surely generates future possibilities.

Many times, simple prayer is formative prayer. It is prayer asking God to change something inside your heart. It begins with the Holy Spirit inside you, whispering something to your soul, drawing your awareness towards clay God would mould. Prayer admits God’s voice in your life. You don’t need many words to say yes to God or “Change me”—and such words can certainly be spoken more than once a day.

Prayer is the one instance in this world where prisoners possess their own freedom key. This key was given to us by the Father, yet we neglect to use it because we labor under the false assumption that using it is too difficult for us. All it takes is a turn.

Perhaps we neglect to employ prayer because the warden would keep us condemned. Never mind, the warden cannot keep watch over us all the time--but the Father does. And we will always possess this key, for prayer cannot be taken away from any of us.

Just make one simple prayer today—all beloved souls can do that.

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