The Gift Of Prayer

The Gift Of Prayer

Maine SunRise

Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love Him”

1 Corinthians 2: 6-10

Prayer is a relationship with God.  It is down to earth conversation with God as if God were sitting right next to us listening, caring, and speaking to us just the way a friend would.    

God is our friend who wants to know us better. 

In fact, God wants us to know ourselves better so that we might make choices and decisions that help us to stay true to who we are. 

The more we stay true to who we are through the gift of prayer, the more peaceful we become.   

So often, we make decisions based on who others would like us to be. 

We turn away from what we know is true for who we are.  We like to fit and belong and be acceptable to others.

When we pull away from our true selves and fail to respond to what we know is true for who we are, we often make decisions or behave in ways that disappoint us.  Then we may feel discouraged. 

In those times, we may also pull away from God, believing that God is disappointed with us too.

But in fact, it is when we are most confused, upset or discouraged with ourselves that God wants to be with us the most.  

God understands that we are all imperfect and that we grow by making mistakes.

God understands that when we grow through our mistakes, we are enabled to move forward better, making more informed choices in the future.

Yes, it is in our moments of need and brokenness that God wants to be there to comfort and guide us. 

God does not turn away from us, we are the ones who turn away from God when we feel bad about ourselves.

Spiritual writer Henri Nouwen has suggested that the essence of prayer is learning to listen deep within ourselves for the comforting inner voice of love.

Although there are many forms of prayer, including formal or rote prayer, the real “work” of the gift of prayer begins in the silence of your heart where God’s inner presence dwells within you and becomes part of you. 

God speaks to your heart.    

God is closer to us than we are to ourselves (St. Augustine). 

There is a big difference between saying prayers and prayer. 

Saying prayers is an activity.  Saying prayers consists of words, which words often lead us to the heart of God within us. 

Through the gift of prayer with words, we often become connected to God’s presence within our heart.

We become aware of the Spirit dwelling within us wanting to feed and nurture us in ways that help us to remain true to who we are in God’s likeness. 

Sometimes we pray without words entering into contemplative space with God. 

Praying without words, or contemplative prayer, is an attitude of the heart that opens us up to the broader meaning of our life with God who is in us.    

Over time, prayer becomes an attitude toward our whole life.  Awareness of living in right relationship with God becomes woven through all our relationships. 

Living in relationship with God becomes part of who we are as a way of life.

It is through an attitude of prayer that we remain open to meaning and purpose in our lives that help us to stay connected to who we are. 

It is through an attitude of prayer that we find ourselves awakening to more of life and the many ways that God shows up in our lives in mysterious ways.

Fostering at attitude of prayer where we develop our relationship with God often begins in the silence of our heart. 

Silence is not always easy.  We like to be in control.  Through silence we develop our relationship – our connection with God — as we learn to trust.

We learn to discern the many ways that God is guiding us and prompting us to go forward in our lives, filled with the wisdom of God’s grace and presence. 

All that we need is a heart this is willing to stay open to the bigger picture of our lives that is becoming clearer to us through the gift of prayer.

A bigger picture experience of our lives might mean becoming aware of deeper meanings that live in and through our life experiences all the time.

This might mean that we move away from our small selves where we think out of dualistic frames, either/or thinking.      

A bigger picture perspective instead helps us to move into our bigger selves, selves that are open to God revealing more to us than we might initially see or be aware of.

A good way to open our hearts to contemplative prayer is by closing our eyes and becoming still, breathing out all that has rattled us into feelings of righteous, while breathing in all of nature and God’s renewing life within us. 

Opportunities for contemplative prayer often surround and enfold our lives in ways that we fail to notice. 

These could include peaceful moments of serenity, awe, and wonder as you are gardening,  folding over the soil and observing firsthand the many forms of life that quietly live beneath the surface of the earth; 

Or the rising of dough as you bake bread;

The transformation of sounds and syllables of toddler babble becoming formed into  a baby’s first words;

Or those moments of seeing shapes formed through clouds in the sky – a heart or some other formation that just speaks warmth, love, and God’s presence to your heart. 

All of these filled with humble, sacred awareness of God’s presence and connection to us in our everyday lives. 

Contemplation is a way of being present to what is inside of our experience. 

Through contemplative prayer and awakening we come to understand that our lives are not insignificant or unimportant.  Rather, what is timeless and eternal is found in the ordinariness of our everyday lives.

Being connected to God in relationship through the gift of prayer opens us up to experiences of oneness, unity, harmony, presence, resonance, wonder, and awe. 

Prayer is knowing God rather than knowing about God.

Prayer is knowing God experientially through our lives and our lived experiences, rather than through objective knowledge about God.

Prayer is feeling God’s love and affection.

Prayer is feeling God’s kindness and caring for who you are.

Prayer is a gift that you open up and give yourself to, a gift that helps you to know more about who you are and who God is within you.   

Geri Kerr

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