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Saturday, July 19, 2014

I don't know how to Pray!

"Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings." Rom 8:26

Learning to pray as a child is relatively easy. Our parents teach us meal prayers, the Our Father or the Hail Mary. When we repeat these prayers often enough, they become second nature. As we age, we learn other prayers by rote. We learn the formula for confession and the act of contrition, and for a while we are satisfied. We can pray, but sooner or later, these memorized prayers seem inadequate, and we find ourselves complaining that we don't know how to pray, and we are right.

Transitions are always a challenge. Our spirits are telling us we need to take another step, but we are unsure what it should be. Wanting to be successful and authentic, we read literature about prayer and often go through a series of prayer experiences. We might try centering prayer, lectio divina (slow reading of scripture) or the liturgy of the hours, but unless we learn to sit quietly and ask for the grace not to worry about how we are doing, we will be frustrated.

Adult prayer is simple and rarely successful. Very much like trying to listen to a friend or a spouse, we miss important points or don't understand of what they are saying, but as long as keep listening, our communication will improve and we learn to accept one another warts and all. Prayer is like this. As long as we are faithful trying to listen to God who speaks through nature, human relationships, song and ritual, we have nothing to worry about. Prayer is not about being successful, but faithful.

Today, pray without speaking. Just listen to nature or a piece of music.

What helped you find the path to an adult prayer of listening?


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