Prayer is communication with the divine (Creator, Redeemer, Spirit), a relationship, like our human relationships, that needs to be nurtured regularly.
Just as in a human relationship we find different ways to build our relationships, so it is with the divine.
As humans, we engage in a variety of activities to develop relationships. We might go to a sporting event or see a movie with a group of friends, go to the local Starbucks for coffee or meet for lunch or dinner, go to a concert, read or listen to a book together or meet at a state park to hike the trails.
Our creativity in human relationships seems endless. We find numerous ways to engage with our friends and family members. Sharing various experiences together creates precious memories and deepens our relationship with each successive encounter.
Various experiences of prayer strengthen our connection with the divine. There are just as many ways to develop our prayer as there are ways to build our human relationships.
We can encounter the divine in a communal way when we attend Mass, pray the Liturgy of the Hours with others or go to a special prayer service. There is great power in joining with others to express and witness to our shared faith.
Our relationship with the divine does not end there. Just like we are in touch with our friends and family on a regular basis and not only at gatherings, so we engage in private prayer experiences to deepen our spiritual life.
When we pray privately we create space for the presence of the divine to accompany us and the voice of the divine to guide us.
Many people express difficulty in entering into prayer, often because the concept of praying conjures images of sitting alone in a room being “forced” to be quiet and to push all thoughts out of the mind. This image really limits what we can consider prayer and can leave us bored, frustrated and turned off by the thought of prayer.
Now imagine prayer as a time to free your spirit, to open yourself up to an encounter with the divine in a profound way, even for a singular moment of
What would open you to this experience, this encounter with the divine?
What is in your toolbox for prayer?
You can begin to create it by listing the types of prayer you already know that work for you and then . . . add something new!
“When we pray privately we create space for the presence of the divine to
accompany us and the voice of the divine to guide us.”
Here are some suggestions for your consideration for private prayer, see where the divine Spirit leads you. Be creative, free your spirit, open yourself to an encounter with the divine as you prayerfully engage in these activities.
Listen to reflective music – try something instrumental (no words). How does the music inspire you? Can you hear the whisper of the Spirit as you listen?
Written Journal – Write your prayer, express your sorrow, struggles, joys, hopes for reconciliation, desire to forgive. Take time to reflect on your writing.
Visual Journal – look through a magazine and cut out the pictures that attract you (pictures only, cut around all words or phrases). Paste images in a creative manner, overlapping as needed on an 8.5 by 5.5 piece of cardboard or card stock. Reflect on the images you have chosen. What theme(s) or message(s) are you speaking to you about what is attracting you through these images?
Create a Mandala or purchase a Mandala workbook – this symbol of the spiritual journey will lead you to reflection, add color to the geometric patterns through the layers from the outside to the inside, as an instrument of meditation. What emerges as a lesson for you? (you can find printable Mandala pages free online).
Read a Psalm until you find a phrase that feeds you, stop there, repeat that phrase, enter into a moment of reflection about what struck you. How is this
phrase feeding you at this time? What does it say about what you need at this time?
Walk the Labyrinth – The walk from the entrance to the center is the first part of the path a time to unburden yourself, creating space for an encounter with the divine. The center is the place where the walker receives illumination or rests in the presence of the divine, retracing the path back offers time to integrate the insights that have come on the journey.
Gyan Mudra – Sit in a comfortable position, join your thumb and first finger, rest quietly and notice the energy that is created as it focuses your mind on a state of meditation. Simply rest in the divine.
Start a gratitude journal – Every night list 3-5 things you are grateful for that day. How does this prayer help you to review your day in a reflective manner? What did you notice about the presence of the divine in your day?
Take a walk, or sit somewhere you can gaze on nature –How is the Creator speaking with you? What message is particularly yours in this journey/reflection? Pause for a minute to let this settle into your soul. Drink in the sacred pause.
Haiku – A great way to express/remember a moment in prayer. Use this short-form poem that has 17 syllables, first line 5, second line 7, and third line 5. It focuses on a brief moment of time, captures images, and offers insight. The process of finding only 17 syllables to express your reflection helps you to capture the essence of any moment in time. Other forms of poetry and prose are powerful too! Give it a try!
Spiritual Reading – Enter into a place of prayer by picking up a book by a spiritual writer, notice the lines and phrases that jump out at you. How is the reading an invitation from the divine to look at a particular issue in your life or lift a prayer for people who are struggling?
Get in touch with the memory of what the divine (Creator, Redeemer and Spirit) has done in your life – You can write your own gospel, your witness to the action of the divine in your life. Holy Scripture writings do just this, the stories evoke images of the action of the divine in the lives of the people.
For 2 minutes imagine you are basking in the Light of Christ – How does the divine light transform you? What insight do you gain in this experience?
Listen to a Guided Meditation – Allow yourself to rest in a sacred space for a meditation that leads you to experience the presence of the divine in the present moment. There are many guided meditations available online. Find one that inspires you.
Art – Get creative, draw, paint, weave, quilt, etc. How does your creative spirit connect you with the divine Spirit? How does it deepen your spirituality? How is the action of the divine in you conveyed to others through your work?
Photography – Capture photos of the natural world, the busy street or a vacation spot. Sit quietly and reflect deeper on the meaning of the images you chose to take. Where do the photos lead you in prayer?
Michelle Grgurich, SCN, currently on sabbatical, most recently served as the Director of the Office of Congregational Ministries for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth for 11 years. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she received her Bachelors in Business Administration and Master of Arts in Theology/Religious Education from Duquesne University. Previously, she served as the Director of the Department for Persons with Disabilities in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. She is fluent in American Sign Language. In addition, she participates in the music ministry at St. Vincent Church.