Prayer: writing it down

When I was young I learned that prayer was "the raising up of the heart and mind to God." Since then nothing has happened to change this view of prayer although much has happened to expand it. I now see prayer as the expression of the relationship between me and God, a complete abandonment to him.

Silence

God speaks in silence as with Elijah on the mountainside [1 Kings 19:11-13]. We can answer in the silence of adoration which waits in patient, expectant stillness, like the maid servant watching for the first signal from her mistress [Ps. 123:2]. All that is needed is our act of will: "Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will" [Heb. 10:8].

Words

However, God can also speak though the words of the saints, a sermon, pastoral letter, the chance remark of a friend - and the scriptures. I read or listen to the reading of the Bible with such concentration as I can manage but very often one phrase or sentence jumps out and holds my attention. It may be because of an unusual word order or a word used in an unaccustomed way. It may be that the phrase sheds light on some problem which has been exercising my mind. For whatever reason the words are now in the forefront of my consciousness. It is as if my Father, or Jesus, my brother, has spoken directly to me! What is more natural than that I should answer?

Answering

It is not necessary to answer immediately. A time for reflection is good. The words can even be used for a while as a mantra for silent repetition, like Mary, who treasured these things and pondered them in her heart [Lk. 2:19]. When replying, I try to keep my answer short. Prayer doesn't needs words at all but I need the discipline of a specific answer and the further discipline of making it a written one.

Quite a conversation

Over a few days you could finish up with quite a conversation. God sometimes finds it necessary to repeat something several times - I can be slow on the uptake!

Examples

Here are examples from a few days readings in January:

o~ Wednesday

"Teach and instruct each other in all wisdom. Sing psalms, hymns and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts." [Col. 3:15]

Lord, how should we be able to teach, instruct or give example, except by witnessing to your love and care, your gentleness and humility, your patience and welcoming forgiveness?

o~ Thursday

"Do your work not only when people are watching you, just to gain their approval, but do it with a sincere heart, because of your reverence for the Lord." [Col 3:22-23]

Lord Jesus, I am riddled with self-love and the desire to seek approval. Give me the grace to seek only your approval. Remind me that it is you who speak and teach, I who abandon myself.

o~ Friday

Be sure to finish the task you were given in the Lord’s service." [Col 4:17]

Father, keep our minds and hearts set on doing your will in all things. Draw us closer and closer to you. Lead us by the hand to the service of our Lord in all those we meet.