I am openly sharing my Lenten experience hoping it may help others in similar circumstance. Most of us do not have "a circle of faith companions." We have friends who are believer, perhaps many. We have a church with whom we pray. We have people we pray for or who pray for us. But what we do not have is heart friends with whom we can sit and discuss our faith journey in depth.
This blog is meant for such sharing. It is meant to give people a place to hear their own journey echoed. It is a place to make us feel "not so alone" and "not so strange, after all." I have spoken before about how comforting it is to hear other parents speak of their children and home life. It is good to know that much of what I worry about is just normal behavior. I hope what I share will give you similar comfort in your spirtual life.
My goal this Lent was to simplify. I intended to focus on the Jesus Prayer and read the Pilgrim. I read it through almost twice. I practiced the Jesus Prayer regularly. I came to an appreciation of repetitive prayer. I also read some Celtic works. And I am reading Healing Light by Agnes Sanford.
Now one "problem" which surfaced is my concern with "praying right." I find that at times I get so side tracked with the words that it is more about "prayers" (what I am saying) and less about "prayer" (communion with God). I talked with a friend who admitted she also has the same distraction. Ahh, sweet relief, I am not alone in the struggle!
While the Jesus Prayer was powerful, I found myself by Easter weekend going in another direction. Modeled after the pilgrim's Jesus Prayer, it is the prayer of "constant" thanks. And from the Celtic spirituality I have grabbed the "circling prayer." In combining these two I am settling into a way of regular prayer during the day. It is simple so "the right words" are easily adjusted. It is simple so it lends itself to being more attentive as I sit in prayer. It is simple so it can be used while driving a car, exercising at the Y, standing in line at the bank. And it is easy to use with Scripture (more tomorrow).
So what does it look like? Here is a basic model which covers the general approach.
I thank and praise you Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit.
Circle me (us) with your (love, grace, mercy, kindness, strength, healing, truth, light, etc.)
I open my (heart, mind, spirit, soul, memory, will, body, etc.) to Your (love, grace, etc.)
I receive it in faith.
I thank You.
Pour Your (love, grace, etc.) through me into others.
Slowly repeating this prayer focuses on what is vital:
That GOD is the source and God already gives it.
That we must be open to receive what God gives.
That we must receive with trust and gratitude to best actualize God's gift.
That all we receive is a gift (grace) to be shared (work of mission and ministry).
I use a rosary doing it which seems to help me focus, but it can be done without counting anything.
This simple prayer can take two minutes or two hours. And if you truly seek God and open to God you will meet God. Today.
There are enough "moving parts" that it can be recited over and over with small adjustments for the person who does not want to just repeat a prayer. Or the pryare time can focus on a single theme.
Change it to fit your needs. Some alternatives:
I am sorry. Fill me with your forgiveness Lord. Thank you for your mercy. Reconcile others through me.
(perhaps you have a list of people in need of reconciliation, so repeat the prayer and name them, one by one, in place of the word "others")
Another element which is most helpful is declaration. So just saying, over and over I trust in your love Lord. I open myself to your love. I thank you for your love. Let your love flow through me.
Why repetition? The easiest explanation is this it takes time, we are too busy and frenetic. Do it and you will see. Do it with focus and rest in the Lord as you say the words. Rest in Him and you will hear a greater depth in the words of your prayer and enter deeper into communion with Him.