Starting to Pray
Prayer is about turning your mind and heart to God whose mind and heart is always turned to you.
We can be entirely honest in prayer, saying whatever we think or feel. And silence can be equally prayerful - simply ‘being’ with God, and resting in his presence.
Prayer also involves being ready to listen to God. Sometimes we feel something; sometimes nothing seems to happen, but often prayer leaves us feeling refreshed, unburdened or realising that we’re not, after all, alone. And if we're able to do it regularly, the sense of God’s presence grows.
What others have said about prayer:
The Archbishop of Canterbury uses a sunbathing metaphor: “When you’re lying on the beach, something is happening that has nothing to do with how you feel or how hard you’re trying. You’re not going to get a better tan by screwing up your eyes and concentrating. You give the time and that’s it. All you have to do is turn up. And then things change, at their own pace. You simply have to be there where the light can get at you”.
Here’s Fr Richard Rohr: “The point of prayer is always union with God. But the side-effects are wonderful: it makes you a little less narcissistic, a little less offendable, because your ego isn’t centre stage”.
And this from Phillip Yancey, in his book ‘Prayer’: “Prayer isn’t a spiritual act oddly unrelated to the rest of my life - it’s like a warm up exercise, not an end in itself, but a means to an end: to increase awareness of God at all other times . . Prayer fills me with compassion that I can't muster on my own.”
- Use words and silences: share your thoughts and feelings with God but make time to be still too.
- Find a focal point; for example, a candle or a cross – something that you can rest your eyes on as you pray.
- Use your breathing to help still you: for a while be conscious of nothing else but your breathing; be aware of how your draw air in and then release it. As thoughts come to you don’t fight them but return to this attentiveness to your breathing. After a while you will find yourself more still, relaxed and ready to pray.
- Decide on a regular time: maybe 5 minutes at the start or end of the day, or during your lunch break. You may find yourself praying at different times as you go through your day but this regular space can give a solid foundation to work on.
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