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Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Praying Catholic

The study of prayer, praying, and the numerous ways to go about doing so can be extensive. Great tomes have been dedicated to the subject. Over the years, great theologians and secular minds alike have made
profound realizations concerning the necessity for prayer. The importance of prayer can be found numerous times through out the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments:
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (NRSV, 2 Chronicles 7:14).Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God (NRSV, Luke 6:12).
It is because of the considerable role of prayer in the life of a Christian disciple that we must understand the various methods to do so.

Reading the Bible is not always recognized as the prayer that it is. However, approaching scripture in a spiritual manner is very much praying. Ninth century Carthusian monk, Guigo II, called it lectio divina, the
divine reading. According to Guigo's concept of lectio divina, reading the Bible “should trigger meditation (“thinking” about what the text means), which in turn should lead to the response of prayer (speaking in our own words in response to meditative reading), and finally prayer should lead us to a kind of contemplation in which we rest silently in the presence of God.

Another form of prayer is to let one's actions reflect a cognizance of God's omnipresence and omniscience. This consciousness of God's presence will lead to making ordinary life a prayer. Our unwavering knowledge and remembrance of God will lead us to both thank Him for His blessings, and beg forgiveness on the occasion of our sin. This mindfulness serves to inform every facet of our lives.

With the insurgence of New Age spirituality it is easy to forget that meditation has played a large role in Christian prayer. Prior to the inception of Christianity the ancient Hebrews meditated: “I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit (NRSV, Psalm 77:6), “I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds” (NRSV, Psalm 77:12). It must be noted that Christian meditation is not an occasion for deliberate thoughtlessness in search of one's self; it is, instead, an opportunity to reflect on some deep sense of self in relation to God. Through meditation we hope to be in the presence of God, and allow that closeness to then come to a greater appreciation for Him, His gifts, and the whole of His creation.
As a disciples of Christ it is important that our actions reflect our fidelity to Him and His teachings. What we do in our daily lives is seen by those around us, and is therefore a testimony to our faith. This too is a form of prayer. These actions are the direct result of God's presence in our lives, and corollary to other forms of prayer. Every time we offer prayers for others, express thanks and gratitude, or ask forgiveness of our trespasses, we are living prayer in action.