Prayer

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Prayer | Personal prayer is essential to internalizing the radical, profound intimacy the living God wants to experience with us. His love for us is infinite. It might be easy to read the last line and agree with it in our head, but in our heart still feel less than adequate, rejected, or forgotten | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #FEARLESS #fearless #Prayer #fearlesschapter6 #fearless6Prayer

Personal prayer is essential to internalizing the radical, profound intimacy the living God wants to experience with us. His love for us is infinite. It might be easy to read the last line and agree with it in our head, but in our heart still feel less than adequate, rejected, or forgotten. Our mind might be able to quickly categorize the statement as true, especially if we grew up in church, have studied Theology, or are religious or clergy. Yet, absorbing the Truth – God – is a lifelong process, one we will likely continue throughout eternity. It is not enough to know the description of God or how he desires to relate to us, even Satan knows the truth. We must make ourselves available to that relationship by spending time exposing our heart to him who exposes his heart to us.

There are many ways to pray, spontaneous intercession, praise and worship, the Rosary, litanies, or Mass.  Contemplation is a quiet type of prayer in which we allow the Lord to permeate us at the core of who we are and transform us into him.  To go to the source of water – a spring or a river – and draw water, but not consume it and allow our bodies to absorb the minerals and hydration would still leave us weak and dehydrated. St. John of the Cross talks about the importance of such prayer. He says,

Learn to abide with attention in loving waiting upon God in a state of quiet. Contemplation is nothing else but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the spirit of love. 1

Contemplation is spending time drinking in the living water of God’s self-gift to us by being present to the Lord who is present to us. This is fundamentally being before him in quiet availability with our hearts open to his heart. He dwells within us through Baptism and we receive him in the Eucharist, but contemplation is the process of being infused with him.

Because contemplation is personal and intimate prayer, St. John says it is “secret.” It is taking time away from other people, activities, and things, and being “in a state of quiet” paying attention to God and waiting on him. In that kind of waiting, we make time and space to let our hearts become available to be infused by his “spirit of love.”  This love sets our souls on fire. The caveat is that we must grant him permission to permeate us in order for this to happen. As we know and have seen in the connection figure, he is within us at our deepest core. We aren’t trying to get him inside us from out there somewhere. Rather, we are allowing him to saturate us from the inside out.

Just like any relationship, growing closer and allowing someone into our heart and life is a process. The more we receive God, the more we love him in return, the more we feel safe with him, and the more we open ourselves up to him. In opening more, we permit him to more truly, fully, and deeply transform us and our lives. In relationships, we tend to reveal the good things about ourselves first. When the other person accepts us at that level, we have the courage to share some of our frailty with them and hide less of our weakness. Eventually, we feel confident enough in their good will toward us that we share with them our shame and pain. The same is true of how we grow in relationship with the Lord. This is why it takes time. It’s not a limitation in him but in us, and one with which he is perfectly patient and persistent. He always calls us more deeply into his peace and love, and it requires vulnerability to respond to his invitation.

Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, has a much richer meaning than we are used to. It doesn’t simply mean the absence of conflict and stress. It is about wholeness, fulfillment, completion, and perfection. Jesus is the prince of peace. For this reason, it makes sense that spending time admitting him more deeply into every aspect of our lives draws us into deeper wholeness. It also draws us to holiness as we become more imbued with him. Thus, growing deeper in prayer can lead to us becoming more in touch with our brokenness or woundedness. This is an act of God’s love and mercy because he desires to make us whole, but it requires courage on our part to allow him to do so.

Spending time in quiet certainly can seem to amplify the noise we may have inside us. Sometimes that noise is busy-ness. At other times, it may be that we are using internal noise to drown out pain. I remember a time in my life when even a moment of quiet was intolerable. I had to always have external sound turned up really loud to overcome the cacophony of chaos inside. I’d get in my car and immediately turn the music up and get home and instantly turn the television on. The expression ‘peace and quiet’ sounded crazy to me because quiet was anything but peaceful. As our own wounds are healed, the noise within ceases. We relate in less painful ways toward ourselves, and others. We put up fewer and fewer obstacles to the flow of God’s love into us and through us to those he puts in our lives. The process and cycle of connection continues to deepen on all levels.

In order to succeed in the practice of contemplation it is helpful to make frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Just as in any relationship, we are capable of participating with another even if there is something out of order between us, but it is much more intimate when the conflict is resolved. The same is true for our relationship with God.  Resolving conflict by confessing our sins is the first step to repairing and building anew. Starting from a state of conflict will only start us off from a place of noise, rather than a place of quiet. In addition, when we practice contemplation with God it can be helpful to find something simple that can hold our attention on him. For some that may be a scripture or a title of Jesus. For others, it may be an image or statue of him that we picture in our mind or have present with us. The point here is not to busy our mind, but to open our heart to his love in a state of receptivity.

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. Do you find yourself avoiding being still and quiet with the Lord? Why or why not?
  2. What is the internal noise you might be trying to drown?
  3. Have you ever considered that prayer requires courage? What are your thoughts on this?
  4. Have you found a key that opens the door to prayer for you? What is it? (Scripture, image, etc.)

Prayer

Lord, thank you for your infinite love for us and for desiring us to live in the fullness of that reality. Please grant us the grace to receive this truth more fully into the depths of our mind and heart and be set ablaze by the fire of your love so our lives can give your warmth and light to all those we meet.

Action Step

Spend some time finding a scripture, quote, or picture that draws you into a sense of God’s love.

Journaling/Further Reflection

If you have a sense of disquiet when you go to pray, ask the Lord to show you why that might be and ask him what he wants you to know about it.

Scriptures for Meditation

1 Kings 19:9-12

Psalm 37:7

Psalm 63:2-4

Matthew 6:5-8

John 7:37-44

2 Corinthians 4:18

 

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

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