How do I pray?
starts in listening. Listening to yourself—the
stirrings of your mind, the aches and joys of your heart, questions
not answered, answers not working. And listening to the world
around you—loved ones, neighbors, strangers, newspaper headlines.
you hear changes hour by hour, day by day. So, then, does your
prayer. The key, I think, is a discipline: not a schedule, not
a posture, not a formula, but an intention, a commitment to take
your life and world seriously, and therefore a willingness to
be touched and disturbed. That discipline might fall neatly into
a routine, like the monastic cycle of “hours,” but
listened, what do you say? In my experience, the language
of prayer comes naturally, like a child’s cry or lover’s
sigh. The point isn’t eloquence, but honesty. A true word
spoken truly will have its own eloquence.
whom do you speak? God has planted in our hearts a spirit
that knows God and cries out to God. We don’t have to learn
about God before we pray. We will learn more about God in the
course of praying.
happens next? I believe God listens and responds. The
nature of God’s response probably won’t follow a straight
line: you pray for X, and God gives X. More likely, the fruits
of prayer will be discernible over time in a life transformed.
do you learn to listen? That may be your first prayer.
Praying with your Heart
for more on how, when, and why to pray.