Prayer is one of those things that sounds like an easy fix, but it is far from that. It is also not rocket science. Prayer is one of those things that is very individual to each person doing it. There is no right way or wrong way to pray. As long as it’s meaningful to you, you’re doing it right.
It took me a long time to figure that out. While I’ve always believed in G-d and had conversations with him, I had always found formal prayer to be out of my reach.
There are many opportunities during the Lenten season to pray a little extra each day and to spend some of that time in contemplation of those things for Lent: fasting, abstinence, penance, almsgiving and prayer itself.
One suggestion that was just offered at a recent retreat is that upon waking up in the morning, sit up in bed with your eyes closed and breathe slowly. No special counting or breathing necessary, just try and clear your mind. No thinking, no listmaking, no complaining. Think about what you’re grateful for, thank G-d for all that He’s given you, all that you have and get ready to start your day.
Think about the ways you can be better, can do better. Last Lent I tried to pray the rosary every day. This Lent, I’m trying to be a little quieter in my thoughts and writing a bit more and looking inward.
When I first began to attend the daily masses at my church, I never knew what to pray for during the prayer of the faithful. It was easy to pray for the sick and the dead – that’s right there in the big print. I had people who were sick, including myself; I had people who had died, but what were my silent intentions? I felt that I needed something tangible to think about in order to pray for it. If I had nothing more tangible to pray for, I had started praying for patience, courage and strength. Sometimes it was a bit more – patience with my kids, courage with my therapist and the like, but it couldn’t hurt and it still felt respectful.
At that recent retreat, I was reminded of an interview Mother Theresa gave on television where she was asked what she spoke to G-d about during her prayers. Her answer was, “Nothing, I just listen.” And while she’s listening, what was it that G-d was saying to her? Her answer to the reporter was, nothing. He just listens.”
Sometimes the silence is enough for our prayers to reach G-d. It’s taken me quite some time to find that place in my prayer. I can now sit in silence during a Mass without looking around, not sure if I’m doing it the right way. What I discovered is that my way is the right way for me. And we will all find our way.
That is one of the things I really love about The Little books. I’m currently reading The Little Black Book for Lent. On the left page is usually some kind of historical reference. On the right side is a portion of the day’s Gospel and a meditation. At the very bottom of the right hand page is the suggestion to “spend some quiet time with the Lord.”
Quiet time, contemplation, meditation, prayer.
Don’t let the focus rest on you. Focus on the joy of the season. Lent isn’t about you or me or the sin we might be running away from. It’s focus should remain on G-d. Every step on this journey should be moving us towards G-d. Lent gives us the opportunity to slow that journey down and look deeper into ourselves and our relationship with G-d.
At a recent Lenten reflection, the director told us to look at who we are and offer ourselves during this time. Lent gives us the time for reflection, for prayer, for thoughtful communion with G-d.