Yesterday I wrote about Cycling and Meditation (BTW, I had a wonderful ride — felt great to be out, got a bruise, briefly lost my riding partner at Cicero and Devon, inhaled a bug, dodged a car driven by someone on her cell phone, saw a young deer with furry little antlers, beheld the beauty of the forest preserves, waved to a little girl on a bike, drank a ton of water, and got home safely and full of joy!)
David commented on my post and shared some of his own experience of prayer.
When “in the groove” with prayer- whether on a bike or not- it is great feeling. The words seem to take on deeper meaning than other words, and are virtually tangible. You don’t dwell on them- everything flows smoothly- but they are particularly meaningful and they seem to permeate your entire body- not just your brain.
I wish this were my daily experience with prayer, but it has not been for me. It is very weird how easy prayer and meditation sometime come, and how forced they are at other times. I have reflected upon it often and can’t find a cause and effect. Sometimes prayer is “easy” when life is going well, I am rested, not anxious, etc. Sometimes it is the opposite.
David well described the feeling of prayer when it is effortless — that is truly a gift of the Spirit. It is something we can’t conjure up ourselves. We can certainly prepare ourselves to be open to it, but it is a totally free gift of God.
I too wish that this was always my experience of prayer, and the temptation is to think “I must not be doing it right” when prayer doesn’t have that effortlessness. But prayer can take so many forms, so many feelings. “Effortlessness” — which I love — is not the only indicator of prayer. Sometimes we struggle, we get distracted, we feel out of sorts. These feelings are okay too and can be part of prayer.
Like David, I don’t like that feeling of prayer being forced … still we have to be faithful to prayer even in these times. Feeling like it is forced might mean we have to try something different — like pray the Rosary instead of centering prayer or vice versa. Or try a different time of day. Maybe it means continuing with the same prayer and just saying to God, “I’m feeling like this is really forced right now, God. I know you are with me in this.”
And remember, prayer is nothing more or less than being with God, talking and listening with Someone who loves us very much. As with other relationships, it takes time to grow with one another, learn our own quirks about how we are with the other. We can develop a “habit of prayer” by regularly taking time to pray and to develop an attitude — a life, really — of prayer such that we are always disposed to being open to God — in prayer, at work, on a bike ride, in an argument, shopping, etc. It takes practice and desire and openness on our part.
And be assured that this is God’s desire for us — to draw close with us, to be with us even if it feels forced or effortless. It is still being with God.
Great post about prayer. Thanks for the reminder that God wants to share time with us. He is wanting to meet our needs, though sometimes instead of meeting a surface need, He meets a need that is much deeper and more profound, doesn’t he? He’s not always predictable, but he’s always reliable. Have a great day!
I love to think on the phrase….’be still and know that I am God’. For me, it is always hard to communicate with God in words. Usually it comes out sounding like a laundry list of give me’s and please grant to me’s. When I am surrounded by nature I usually can feel His subtle touch and I feel His presence deep in my heart. I love to say the Office, but sometimes the words are merely that and I dont have the discipline to say…God is here too, stick it out. I guess I always thought that at my age I would just have a certain comfort level with Him, but when I truly make ‘contact’, it feels like a supernova exploding. Interesting thoughts Sister
Pls pray for healing for my 35 yr. old cousin Drew who has ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease). Pls also pray for Toni’s conversion back to our Church. Thank you and God bless you all! Sally
Sister, I have been a cyclist for nearly 40 years and about 15 years ago became a reader/student of Thomas Merton and it was then I realised that much of my time on the bike has been spent in contemplation! Quite often I return from a long ride and can’t for the life of me remember several miles of the ride…I just “zone out” in that groove. Perhaps I will reach “enlightenment” on the bike…hopefully not on a fast downhill! Thanks for the words, love your site! I will be in Chicago next week to spoil our grandkids (and see our daughter too, I guess) I hope sometime to bring my bike!
I arrived here by way of looking for verification of a prayer by Fr. Pedro Arrupe. I’ve since been reading through the threads, nodding all the while, and thinking, “God bless serendipity!”
As to prayer: Like alicemary, I find the phrase ’be still and know that I am God’ opens me up and settles me down; it reminds me – again – who’s in charge. I also agree that prayer is more than supplication or adoration (though it is certainly that, too), or as Martin Matry says, “I have never believed that prayer has to be something that you’re uttering all the time. I think it’s a way of life; it’s a conversation with God.” As such, the best conversations in my life are the ones where I listen more, talk less; why would it be any other way with God?
I’ll close with this other perspective on prayer from Patricia Hampl’s, Virgin Time: In Search of the Contemplative Life which I access often:
“What is prayer? I make a list: Praise. Gratitude. Begging/pleading/cutting deals. Fruitless whining and pulling. Focus. There the list breaks off; I had found my word. Prayer only looks like an act of language; fundamentally it is a position, a placement of oneself. Focus. Get there, and all that’s left to say is the words. They come: from ancient times … from the surprisingly eloquent heart … from the gush and chatter of the day’s detail longing to be rendered.”