An Abundant Present

Pray-er and Prayer

Listen to a Centering Prayer Meditation

Prayer is uni-versal, joining us with the one song of the universe. Prayer is common across spiritual traditions and religions, yet spirituality, faith or religion isn’t required. Prayer is personal and without boundaries. Being of the realm of miracles it defies description. Everything is possible with prayer. Prayers come to us spontaneously in the form of gratitude, humility, and joy; they may arise in the midst of desperation when all worldly efforts have failed.

In the act of prayer, we turn our attention toward God

Within this moment something miraculously happens. By turning toward God, we encounter God’s presence. In this simple act of offering our awareness, we experience the source of our existence.

As the pray-er, we PAUSE (practice awareness until spirit emerges) and turn our awareness toward the presence of God. It is within the stillness, the humility of the heart, that we remember a relationship that has always been. We realize we are a vessel through which God’s Love pours into the world.

God grant me the Serenity To accept the things I cannot change… Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. ~ Amen

An Abundant Present

Prayer the Natural Language of the Soul

Listen to a Centering Prayer Meditation

Prayer goes beyond liturgical words, time and space.  Prayer is an attitude, a way of action capable of informing and transforming every aspect of our self.  Humbly expanding our prayerful attitude, in gratitude and openness, reveals our primordial relationship with Love, with God.

God gives us the freedom to choose and perceive and free will allows us to select our concept of God.  We select our perception, our attitude, our thoughts, and beliefs.  As we become increasingly willing to trust and have faith in God, we come to experience a caring God offering an abundance of unconditional love, compassion, tolerance, patience, serenity, and peace.  As we accept the Truth of God’s love for us, we gain the capacity to set aside our old ideas and open to a new experience.  By letting go of the past, within the present, we open to a personal relationship with God.

Become Willing to Release Old Ideas and Judgments

Through consciousness, we experience our existence.  We choose the object of our awareness, and it becomes our creation.  Realize that the thinking mind, that analyzes and separates and makes judgments and rejects is like a mechanical machine that is not you.  It is mechanical because it is a habit.  And it is a machine because it was made.  But it is not you because you are the maker of that which you created.

Cultural, psychological, theological, and spiritual obstacles introduce fear, guilt, and self-centeredness obstructing our capacity to set aside our misperceptions.  To accept love and to forgive our self and others many of us are hesitant to let go of our old beliefs and ideas completely.  God longs to help us remove these blocks, but we must participate.  Offering our awareness to God through Prayer is a way to engage.  Prayer holds the intention and creates the container.  Every moment, every breath, every action is an opportunity to offer our awareness to the God of love and understanding.

Transformation is foundational to spirituality.  Prayer plays a central role in the inner of work of change.  It is a means through which God gains access to facilitate the spiritual work of transformation.  Lectio Divina, an ancient monastic practice, was developed expressly for transformational purposes.  It is a way of opening ourselves to God so we might be touched, awakened, realigned, integrated and healed. 

“It leads us to a way of understanding and practicing prayer that is vastly different from how most of us understand and practice it because it leads us to open ourselves to God so God can pray in and through us.”  ~ David G. Benner

Prayer is so much more than we usually think.  To explore this natural language of the soul, the ancient Christian monastic prayer practice of Lectio Divina offers us a map.  Within the framework are four components – four movements.  They describe four dimensions of the vibrant and dynamic dance that is Lectio Divina.  The twelfth-century Carthusian monk Guigo II first outlined this framework for prayer.  He identified four stages of humble prayer and labeled them as Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio, and Contemplatio.  Let’s explore these four Latin terms as four broad prayer paths – prayer as attending, prayer as pondering, prayer as responding and prayer as being.

An Abundant Present

Four Movements of Prayer

Attending, Pondering, Responding, and Being

Lectio is prayer as attending. Literally meaning “reading” lectio reminds us to begin prayer as attentive openness and expectancy. In lectio, we listen and wait for the still, small voice of God that speaks to us personally and intimately. In faith, we wait for God to speak through Word and Spirit to our heart. Be attentive; the Word may come through ordinary conversation or divinely inspired books and stories. Attune the attitude toward gratitude and openness.

Cultivating Prayerful Attentiveness
• Make time each day for pauses in stillness, use these moments for attentive prayer.
• Watch for traces of the divine in daily life.
• Watch for God in other people.
• Consider taking a spiritual retreat as a means of attending prayer.

Meditatio, from which we get the English word meditation, is prayer as pondering. In today’s culture, the word meditation covers a vast array of practices. We will focus on the common elements by encapsulating all methods within a container of prayer.

Within prayer as pondering we reflectively chew on what we have received from God in lectio. While lectio involves the senses and intuition, meditatio is primarily a cognitive (head) and affective (heart) activity. Meditatio can never be merely an activity of the mind. It must also engage the heart. The pondering of meditatio combines the head and the heart.

Cultivating Prayerful Pondering
Pondering prayer is the responding to the invitation to bring your mind, heart, and imagination to your communion with God.
• Share with God the things you have been thinking about or weigh heavy on your heart.
• Ponder the meaning and significance of some of the significant rituals and practices that are part of your life.
• When you find yourself reflecting on some recent personal experience, invite God to be part of the process.
• And be sure to lighten up, don’t become bogged down in the ruts of rumination. Remember to stay in the present moment.

Oratio is prayer as responding. After pondering God’s word to us, our hearts are touched and our wills are stirred. Oratio is our response to this stirring of our spirit. We may respond with words – what we often think of as prayer. But we may also surrender ourselves in gratitude, write in a journal, sing a song, go for a walk or reflect the light of love. What a joy it is to not only pray with words but also with our hands, feet, and heart! Every action is an opportunity for prayer.

Cultivating Prayerful Responding
Prayer is more than thoughts and words. We pray with our heart, our hands and feet, and even our way of living.
• Expand your library of worded prayer.
• Embrace God in ways that meet you in your uniqueness.
• Let love flow through you.
• Let go, and let your body, soul, and spirit respond to God.

Contemplatio is prayer as being. In contemplatio, we rest our awareness in the presence of the One who offers us a transforming embrace. This is a prayer of presence. It is a prayer of being; a gift of being in and with God that allows our doing to flow from this quiet still center. It is the movement from conversation to communion.

Cultivating Prayerful Being
Make space for God in stillness and trust that the Spirit will guide the process. Don’t expect results. Merely give regular blocks of time, daily if possible, in restful stillness with God.
• Attend, ponder, respond and then be with God at rest and in love.
• In physical stillness offer a prayer, repeat the prayer for as much time as you set aside.
• Listen to our centering prayer meditations.
• Washing dishes.

These four movements become a dance of prayer. Allow the spirit to lead the dance letting it unfold spontaneously. Sometimes it will include only one or two of the movements and sometimes all four of them. Don’t try to control the process. Just open your heart to God and allow the Spirit to lead this dance of love in the way that is God’s gift to you for the present moment.

Reading - Prayer as Attending

Explore the Collection of Inspiring Books

One of my favorite books, The Holy Spirit’s Interpretation of the New Testament, by Regina Dawn Akers, offers a beautiful description of the teacher and the student, or as within 12 Step recovery, the sponsor and the sponsee.

“The teacher is a student that practices all that he teaches, knowing fully that the message he shares is also for him.  In this way anyone may be a teacher of My Word, for anyone may choose to be the student, and the student is the teacher.  For the teacher comes through the student in order that the student may learn.” ~ from NTI Luke, Chapter 9

Remember; then that what you say to others you are be saying to yourself. This extends to your actions too.  An offering of kindness to someone is an offering of kindness to you. Therefore, be aware and mindful of what you say and do.

An Abundant Present

Open to the Presence of God who is Present in You

The quintessence of our being is Love. Love is the I Am that is prior to the I am this, or I am that. God is our essence, and our sacred heart is a portal to this remembering. With an attitude of gratitude and humility set aside a bit of time, every day, and PAUSE. Let go of time. Place your awareness within the sanctuary of the present moment. Open your sacred heart and allow God’s unconditional love to flow into your soul, your mind, and your body.

To receive a gift, we must be willing to accept it. It’s our willingness to open to a new experience that allows us to let go of our limiting beliefs and realize God’s power to care for us within the present moment. As we accept God’s love, we find faith and gain the capacity to forgive our self and others. Being human gives us the freedom to be as we desire. God’s grace is always within. But the soft and gentle voice for God is often forgotten by the excitement of ambition, emotions, and fear. Set aside a time each day and PAUSE, be aware of Love’s presence within your sacred heart.

Pray from the Heart (how to pray)

Whether we pray together or alone, pray with an attitude of humility, free of ideas, beliefs, judgments, and prejudices. Place your awareness within the stillness of your heart.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6.6)

Keep it Simple

“Contemplatives seldom use words when they pray, but if they do, they choose only a few, and the fewer, the better. They prefer a short one-syllable over two syllables because the spirit can best assimilate it.” ~ Cloud of Unknowing suggests Chapter 37

It’s our attitude, our inclination as we pray that is important. The action of prayer forms an intimacy as we turn our awareness toward God.

“We ask especially for freedom from self-will and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn’t work. You can easily see why.” ~ AA Big Book, p 87

With a touch of willingness, your heart will open, and you will mindfully awaken into the present moment. Any thoughts of guilt, anxiety, and fear will melt away. Your mind will rest. Serenity and happiness will fill your soul. As we accept God’s grace, we find God doing for us what we cannot do for our self.

Create a Habit of Prayer

A simple person once suggested we keep our car keys under our bed. Then, we create two opportunities to kneel in prayer. One when we place the keys under the bed and the other when we retrieve them. Other’s make a habit of prayer upon awakening before their feet touch the ground and upon retiring at the end of the day. In the beginning, we must find triggers causing us to remember to pray. Over time, prayer becomes a reflex, a habit.

Our ever-repeating turning toward Christ becomes like the waves of the ocean that pound against the jagged rocks, making them smooth. Our fidelity to the stillness of prayer washes away the concealing silt of the false self, exposing before our eyes the obscure promise of that unexpected moment in which we find in ourselves not just ourselves but him.” ~ The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation, p20. Thomas Merton

PAUSE ~ every day to pray ~ Everyone benefits

Overlooking the simplicity and power of Prayer is easy. If you’re looking to start a spiritual practice or if you desire more love, compassion, patience, hope, and understanding in your life recite a prayer daily for at least 30 days. Your faith will expand, your relationships will heal, and your mind will become quiet. Life can become a prayer and prayer becomes life.

May peace and Love fill your soul.

Listen with the Heart

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As we journey this happy road of destiny, PAUSE, keep your head above the clouds and your feet on the ground. Choose a path that is joyful. Keep the focus on communion with God. Peace, Aum, Shanti.

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May you find God’s presence in your heart,
AUM, Shanti, Peace, Namaste.