Contemplation : How to Pray without words
I was eating a Hawaiian pizza in an Italian restaurant with an old Franciscan priest called Brennan Manning. It was near the start of 24-7 Prayer and he was plying me with questions. We were eating with knives and forks, which isn’t how pizza is meant to be eaten. ‘So you guys are praying night and day?’ I nodded. ‘All the time?’ I caught a mischievous twinkle in his eye. ‘So tell me - how do you ever know when you’ve prayed enough?’
Like Pete, you too may have been asked, or thought about this question. With so many problems to bring before our Father in heaven, it can feel like we never pray enough.
When Pete was struggling with this question in the early days of 24-7 Prayer, the Franciscan priest Brennan Manning had some vital words of wisdom:
What if the hour you spend in the prayer room is when you refocus on Jesus so that you can carry his presence with you into the other twenty-three hours of the day with a heightened awareness that he is with you, he is for you, that he likes you, that he hears your thoughts? You start to pray in real time. You instinctively lift situations to the Lord in the actual moment that you experience them - while you are watching that distressing news report, or hearing about your friend’s latest crisis. You’re no longer deferring all your prayers to some later, holier moment, because your whole life is becoming that holier moment.’
For many of us, this type of prayer requires stepping outside of our busy schedules and letting go of our to-do lists so that we can be still before the Lord. This type of prayer can be personally transformational for the way that we live out our faith.
As you come before God today, be still and contemplate the Lord’s presence. You might like to use the Bible passages as a starting point for your time of contemplation.
Begin with this powerful acclamation from Psalm 19:
‘May [...] this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.’