Sharing in Prayer
- Categories: Pray
A Reflection on Prayer
by Sheila O’Handley, Diocesan Hermit
We all pray – whether we call it prayer or some other name or practice, we all pray. Primarily, prayer is relational. It is also personal, interpersonal, planetary, and cosmic. Prayer begins first with a relationship with one’s self, one of the partners in the relationship of prayer. This relationship with one’s self may be the most difficult relationship to trust. It may also seem like a strange place to begin prayer, and for some, it may even seem the wrong place. Prayer is more than simply ‘saying prayers’ … it is fundamentally a transformation process into ‘becoming prayer.’
We don’t need spiritual somersaults to experience prayer. What is required is very simple:
1. Cultivate an inwardness – inwardness into the recesses of the heart where we can be fully present to all the bits and pieces that inhabit who we are.
2. Cultivate silence. Silence will create an environment, a safe space that will enable us to listen to and to hear all the bits and pieces, the inner community of the voices of prayer tugging at the inner and outer lining of the heart … voices such as instinct, fear, grief, sexuality, surprise, achievement, disappointment, aggression, shadow, fantasy, emotion, desire, life, death, and betrayal are some of the voices that tell something of the story of who we are. This inner community of living voices is the landscape of prayer, the real material of the prayer experience. The voices of prayer request that they be welcomed, respected, embraced with compassion and forgiveness; only then can transformation, acceptance of the true self, and the beginning of living prayer become possible.
The words of Saint Clement, “When you know yourself, you know God’-, assure that in the self-knowledge of the heart we come to experience the Other Partner who is in the relationship of prayer with us – God, the Life Source. This Partner has been there all along, disguised in all the inner voices edging us on lovingly to self-acceptance into living prayer. Intuitively the heart knows that we long for this relationship of living prayer with the Other Partner of prayer.