God speaks to us through various things. Lately I’ve heard his voice recommending a new way of praying in material I have read. In particular, the book Pray to Your Father in Secret by Jean Lafrance has prompted me to change my style of praying during my morning meditation. For years I spent this time meditating on the day’s Gospel. Now I am praying by quieting my mind and becoming aware of God around me and within me, loving me. No words are said. I simply enjoy his company.
This beautiful way of praying was reinforced for me the night of the lunar eclipse. I arose at 4:45, dressed, and went in search of the full moon. I found it on the third floor porch. For a half hour I sat in the cold on a glider, watching the shadow of the earth pass before the moon. Alone, with only a few stars sparkling in the dark expanse above me, it was easy to think of our awesome God. These were holy moments for me.
Now God is always present, but we do not always realize it. This quiet prayer of focusing on God is simple, but satisfying. It may seem like “cheating,” because it doesn’t require as much work as other forms of prayer. It’s said that the Cure of Ars noticed a peasant sitting for hours before the tabernacle in church. One day he asked the man what he was doing. The man replied, “I look at him and he looks at me.” This is understandable. Two people in love are content in just being together.
The challenge is eliminating the pesky thoughts that distract us from God like gnats. It helps to pray in an uncluttered space so nothing else requires our attention: like a book out of place or a crooked picture on the wall. Put the computer to sleep and turn off the cell phone. A devotional picture or a lighted candle can serve to rivet our minds on God. So can a walk in God’s natural world: a forest, a park, or a beach.
Edwina Gateley wrote a poem that I use during my talks on prayer. It sums up the method of quiet prayer:
Before your God.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Let your God—
To take this simple style of prayer a step farther: Try to be aware of God’s presence during the day. It only takes a few moments. As you fold laundry or put away the dishes, realize that God is watching you. You might designate a cue that will trigger a thought about God—like every time you touch a doorknob or walk up stairs.
Here is a lovely hymn to set the mood for a period of quiet prayer:
• Have you prayed this way? If you try it, what do you think about it?