During Lent, I held a luncheon series on Ways to Pray. We explored verbal prayer, writing prayer, movement prayer, praying through art, and praying through singing. Through these experiences, all of us saw our communication with God expand – nudging each of us to open ourselves to the variety of ways we are called to connect with God.
And I asked the group each week what was difficult or uncomfortable about each new way of praying. With gratitude, I saw how the participants were willing and ready to try various types of prayer.
In her post “Can I Pray This Way?” at Matter of Prayer, Elizabeth approaches prayer from the Ignatian tradition:
As I consider praying in the Ignatian way, I remember the times I vividly experienced this way of prayer. Contemplative, imaginative, experiential prayer. But—will it work for me, this time?
I must admit up front: I am afraid. I am afraid that nothing will happen, this time. I am afraid of not paying sufficient attention to this type of prayer. I am afraid of being far from God. I am afraid my mind is so cluttered and full of chatter that I will not be able to focus. And, I am afraid that my heart is not right with God. This time.
Trying new prayer processes can be intimidating. But through Elizabeth’s courage to step outside of her comfort zones, she provides us a gift as we look at prayer through other angles:
Also, using as many senses as I can is a good suggestion. What can I hear from this passage? What do I see? Are there any smells? Can I taste anything? These are all places for me to start to begin Ignatian contemplation. Even if I am afraid of having my prayer stall out.
How does our connection through social media expand our prayer explorations? Katherine notes the following on her blog post “Facebook Brought Me Back to Prayer”. After needing to stop running because of knee issues, Katherine uses her rehabilitation exercise time to scroll through Facebook and pray:
I sat in the same spot of the sofa where I’ve been sitting for five weeks; I completed my exercises and started the icing; I scrolled through facebook memories; and for the first time in weeks, I prayed.
I prayed for the posts from others and for the people in my newsfeed.
I prayed for the people in the memories.
I prayed prayers of thanksgivings for the times of joy and fun and laughter.
I prayed prayers of grief over those who no longer are with us, over the memories that reminded me of hard times and struggles and thanksgivings for those hard times that are behind us.
I prayed prayers of thanksgivings for the lessons I learned from people and places and experiences.
And I cried out in anger and grief over the memories that came popped up about running.
People often complain how Facebook and various social media have corrupted our culture. Yet through Facebook, many of us reach out for prayers, and even more of us pray for our cyber-siblings. What if having this platform was God’s intentions all along to nudge us to pray more often?
Writing prayers often gets us through the tough days – especially as rain takes over our skies or as grief grasps our hearts. Susannah at Tea and Theology gives us the example of praying through the rain. As the post features a photo of her covered in droplets of waters, she laments:
Why does it rain when I want to be outside? Why do we complain so much about the rain?
Through her wrestling, Susannah focuses her meditation on safety for those experiencing floods and gratitude for the rains that fall on grounds in need of moisture. She concludes with the following:
Help us to give thanks for the rain even when it disrupts our plans because this planet we call home needs regular rain to provide food for all your children.
As we read in Matthew 6, Jesus’ advice on prayer was not to be loud and gaudy as we share our intentions. Jesus’ gives us a simple prayer that hits all of the marks – forgiveness, gratitude, praise, and asking for our needs. Through our blogger friends, we see how prayer keeps evolving but how the intention of prayer remains the same: keep connecting with God and keep loving our neighbors and creation through our petitions.
The Rev. Michelle L. Torigian is the Senior Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville, Illinois. Her essay “Always a Pastor, Never the Bride” was in the RevGalBlogPals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. She also has chapters in the books Sacred Habits: The Rise of the Creative Clergy and A Child Laughs: Prayers for Justice and Hope. Torigian blogs at http://www.michelletorigian.com.
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