Thursday, August 13, 2009
Second Part of Fr. Meehan's discussion on prayer
Practical Prayer is primarily one using the senses. Sacraments and Sacramentals are important here. Liturgy as a sensed experience is an important form of prayer of this kind. Other appropriate forms are reading, singing hymns, psalms and other songs, saying the Divine Office, Ignatian meditation; people with this practical bent to life find that a special prayer schedule is a good technique for them. Planning a decision or discernment prayer are often suitable prayer forms for this group.
Imaginative Prayer this prayer is one that makes great use of imagination and intuition.The use of symbols ( the cross, incense, a skull, an icon, raised hands... ) as guides to prayer can be very helpful to the imaginative person. The sacraments in their symbolic nature can be great resources for imaginative prayer. Reflective meditation methods (Augustine, Ignatius, Francis de Sales) which utilize the imagination or intuition are very attractive and fruitful. Some other appealing forms of prayer are: the rosary, the Stations, reflection on death and other major life stages.
Truth Seeking Prayer after the models of St. Domenic, St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas, study type prayer can be very much a value. Studying and reflecting on Scripture or theological data, praying on the news of the day, asking what are the clues to God's presence or absence, studying my own life line and discerning the presence of God. Reflecting with the spirit of God on the meaning of my prayer, and dreams. Here too discernment prayer is a very compatible form. (A Life Line is a personal reminiscence of my past life to find where God was leading me. During some of these life events I was aware of God's presence, but in many instances I became aware of God's presence only after I reflected on the the event and its importance in my life.)
Good seeking prayer is prayer that makes full use of the feelings, affective prayer, letting love predominate in prayer. For this group suitable forms of prayer are: zen and centering prayer, Jesus prayer, praying in tongues, reflection that allows full range to my emotions and feelings, angry prayer and compassionate prayer, reflection on the passion and resurrection of Jesus.
Decisive Prayer is well organized prayer. The Divine Office is a major example. The Liturgy of the Eucharist which appeals in different ways to each of the modes is also important here because of its orderliness and regularity. Life line and daily life line prayer also are a value. The Spiritual Exercises, Cursillo, Encounters , planning and discernment prayer, and similar forms of prayer are good for this mode.
Concerned prayer is prayer for the person in no hurry. For this kind of person appropriate prayer forms are waiting prayer, centering prayer, zen prayer, contemplative prayer, compassionate reflection, free flowing prayer, listening to the Spirit, prayer with and for others, dream interpretation prayer, prayer of petition, prayer of thanksgiving.
Lectio Divina: The Prayer of St. Benedict.
It can be noted that certain kinds of prayer incorporate all of these modes in one way or another and therefore appeal to all. Thus for example: the four stages of the prayer of St. Benedict use all of these modes. These stages are:
Lectio Divina: slow , careful reflective reading of the Bible.
Meditation: reflection on one part of the reading or Mystery
Oratio: affective prayer, with love of God predominating
Contemplation: responding to God as experienced.
Great St. Teresa's Prayer incorporates all the modes since by its very nature it leads to God driven prayer which transcends all the others. Teresa describe prayer as beginning with the individual person in meditation, then moving upward to affective prayer, from then on all advances into the various forms of contemplation are direct freely given gifts from God to the person praying.
Prayer as communication
Prayer like all other forms of communication and conversation between individuals is a very personal thing. Every person has a special way of doing it.This means that my prayer has to be the subject of personal discovery for me. I can learn much from others, but in the final analysis, I am the only one, with the help of the Spirit who can discover the best prayer for me. Any and all kinds that help my relationship with the Triune God to grow are good for me.