As we continue to deepen our spiritual lives, it might be useful to explore when we should pray. Why useful? Sometimes people limit their praying to when they are present in church, or when someone is sick, especially themselves, or when some other trouble happens. What is interesting here is that even if somebody prays at those particular moments, they are saying to themselves that they do realize that prayer is important. If on some level of their being this truth is believed, then why not pray at other times too?
For example, why not pray over meals, and not just at home but even at a restaurant? By doing this I am reminding myself that God never ceases to nourish me. God is always nourishing me! Take one more step and perhaps I can use such a moment to remind myself that life is sacred. My life is sacred! Talk about an upgraded perception, considering all the other ways I might view life in this world, e.g., dangerous, boring, indifferently, judgmentally, and so on. Now, by praying over something as basic as at my meal; this moment I am transcending all of my other basic ways of perceiving the world, by now reminding myself that, besides all the other ways I might look on life, I must admit that I recognize that life is sacred, too.
Presuming that I am firm in this level of awareness, why not experiment at actually recognizing the sacred in all aspects of my life. Personally I have developed a sacred habit of praying for anyone I read about in the paper, who has died, whether naturally, or because of a crime, or because of some disaster. I offer a prayer for them and for their families.
In like fashion, it is a good idea to offer a silent prayer for coworkers when at my place of work. Silent prayer for any purpose or for anyone is in itself ideal, in fact. I may not be going throughout the world preaching the Gospel as it says in Scripture to do, but I am closer to that by bringing God’s Presence into all aspects of my life, starting by bringing God’s Presence into me! Of course, what I am really doing is reminding myself, by my prayer that God is indeed within me for God always-is-within-me, just as God is everywhere.
This type of prayer is powerful. The Apostles only received Christ’s command to convert the world once they converted themselves, and transformed themselves inside out, as it were. People who met them were basically meeting Christ, in turn leading to their own conversion. If Christ is not in one’s own heart, manifesting in Christ-like behavior, why would anyone else be interested? But in fact other people during the time of the Apostles were interested! That says a great deal about the people who preached to them, not only in terms of what was being said, but most especially in terms of the speakers themselves. Remember, originally the Good News was delivered orally. It was not written down for some time yet. So the original message was what was said, as well as who was saying it.
Ultimately, in developing the habit of praying always, we are in effect imitating Christ who lived always in the Presence of His Father, and spoke only the Father’s Words. And since we are called to be other Christ’s in the world, it seems only natural that we too should live always in the Presence of God. After all, He is our Father too! Praying throughout our day is a good place to start. And being completely transformed is a good place to end, as it is where we learn what it means to be born again. Really born again!
Peace, Fr. Walter