Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bringing Our Hearts into Prayer

Romans 8:26 - In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

Prayer. I love to pray.
I love to talk about it. And I love to write about it.
So I have decided to write a few posts about prayer.
Not so much to teach as to share.
Not so much to discuss different prayers or different kinds of prayers as to talk about prayer in general.
Prayer as relationship. Prayer as our life with God.
I am not what you might call an expert on prayer. Or at least, I am not the “theological-degrees-after-my-name” kind of expert.
But I have learned a lot by praying. I have read the saints. I have read scripture. I have learned from people with those theological degrees after their names. And I have read many books.
And of course, I am always learning from the Holy Spirit.

My favorite book about prayer has to be Toward God, the Ancient Wisdom of Western Prayer, written by Father Michael Casey. In this book, he writes one of my favorite quotes about prayer - “Prayer cannot be measured on a scale of success and failure because it is God’s work and God always succeeds.”
We so often worry about our prayer. Is it working? Am I doing it right? What kind of prayer should I pray?
What about distractions? What if I cannot think of the right words?
My spiritual director often told me that 90% of prayer is just showing up.
If prayer is God’s work and God always succeeds, then we do not need to worry about whether or not we are doing it right. We just need to surrender to it. Submit to it.
Show up.
Sounds simple. It is. And yet it isn’t. It isn’t because it often means letting go and trusting. And it means that we need to stop overthinking prayer and making it too complicated.
We need to get out of our heads and into our hearts.
Fr. Casey writes that prayer “is less a question of bringing prayer into our hearts than of bringing our hearts into prayer.”

This is the direction I would like to take with these posts. I do not know how often or how many posts I will write. I will leave it up to the Holy Spirit.
I hope you will make this journey with me.


Karinann said...

Colleen, I love disccussing prayer too. I am hoping your posts lead to some good discussion here with your readers sharing their experiences. I actually have a more difficult time with formal prayer. Ifinx it easier to just speak whatever comes. I will clarify though-as far as formal prayer goes I never tire of the Mass. Thanks for sharing those quotes on prayer. I am looking forwrd to your future posts on this topic. Hugs & blessings!

Barb Schoeneberger said...

"My spiritual director often told me that 90% of prayer is just showing up."

What a relief!

Daily Grace said...

“Prayer cannot be measured on a scale of success and failure because it is God’s work and God always succeeds.” What a true statement.

This is so beautiful Colleen, thank you.

Colleen said...

Karinann, I was hoping you would read this and join me on this journey. I know you love discussing prayer too. I too find it easier to speak what comes to my mind and heart. I too love the Mass. But most other formal prayer is a struggle. I may write about that next. Thanks for your comments! Hugs and blessings to you!

Colleen said...

Barb, I know what you mean!! The first time he told me that, I was just speechless! Really? But the more I pray and the more I learn about praying, I see what he meant by it and I have to agree. And it is a relief!

Colleen said...

Daily Grace, I agree. It is beautiful. Thanks! God bless!

Jean Wise said...

I knew we were kindred spirits - both passionate about prayer. I look forward to reading and pondering your thoughts on this series.

Colleen said...

Jean, yes, you are right, we are kindred spirits. I am definitely passionate about prayer! Glad you will join us!

mary333 said...

I am looking forward to your posts on prayer, Colleen! I loved this one - it makes it sound so simple...and I'm all for simple right now :) I often overthink things, forgetting that God loves simplicity and purity of heart.

Colleen said...

Mary, I think we all do that. I really felt the nudge to do this series and I want to just keep it simple like this post. I hope. I have been pondering my next installment!

Carol@simple_catholic said...

Oh, this is going to be good! Can't wait to hear your thoughts and experiences of prayer. :)

I love that quote by your spiritual director!

Kathleen Basi said...

Looking forward to this! I've thought a lot about prayer in recent years--personal, communal, familial, and so on. The more I think about it the more I realize that prayer comes in many forms, and only when life is all integrated does it do what Paul urged, "Pray without ceasing."

Colleen said...

Carol, I have heard that quote from other priests, too and I have read it as well. A good one to remember when we get worried about our prayer life.
My next post on prayer will be this week.

Kathleen, thank you for your comment! Hope you enjoy the series. God bless!

intostillness said...

Well said, Colleen. More and more I see it's God's work and my privilege.

Colleen said...

Instillness, I think it is such a grace when we finally see that, eh? Thank you! God bless!