“Whenever I go to the chapel, I put myself in the presence of our good Lord, and I say to Him, ‘Lord, I am here. Tell me what you would have me to do.’ And then, I tell God everything that is in my heart. I tell him about my pains and my joys, and then I listen. If you listen, God will also speak to you.” – St. Catherine Labouré
Today* I gave a talk on prayer to about 25 young people and wished I might have used this quote. The group was pretty quiet but I gave them hands-on experience with praying in a variety of styles: with song, lectio divina, contemplation, intercessory prayer, and the Examen. I handed each of them a string with a knot tied in it and asked them to think about one thing that they want to ask Mary, the Undoer of Knots, to untie in their lives. I suggested that they keep the string in a pocket and each time they touch it, that they ask for Mary’s help.
At the end of it, I asked them which prayer style suited them most and what they might try to incorporate in the week ahead. Many said that they enjoyed the Examen, an Ignatian daily tool for looking over the last 24 hours to see where God has been present or where being attentive to God was lacking. Several also said that they liked the “knot thing”. I am glad that these young folks learned some new ways to find God–of talking and listening to God.
What was clear to me in sharing my love of prayer was that we all resonate with the Divine differently. Some of us find the Sacred outdoors, in a forest, on a mountain, beachside, in a garden, or watching a sunset. Others encounter the Holy on their knees in a traditional worship space or a quiet prayer place that has been created for this purpose. A few like to recite ritual prayers while others sit and breathe. God does not value one form over another. God values that you place yourself in the Presence lovingly, with an open heart, saying Here I am. To develop a deep friendship, we must interact without walls, without attempts to be someone we are not, and without an agenda to change the other person. We must simply be.
Lent offers us an opportunity to draw closer to God. May we be open to telling God everything that is in our hearts.
What is your favourite style of prayer?
What can you do this Lent to draw closer to God?
You untie our knots while binding us closer to you, Holy One. Funny how that works. Release me from all that binds me, except for those cords that chain me to You. Amen.
- I tried to post this on Saturday but the Internet went down