March 24, 2007: Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

THE PRAYER LIFE THAT SAVES

We must pray and yet there are so many choices. There are the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary, prayerful scriptural reading, ad-hoc prayers of intercession, such devotions as the Divine Mercy Prayer, and of course all those special prayers to be said in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There are even collections of the hymns and poetry for those inclined to a certain type of intense but detached devotion to the Lord Jesus and to His Real Presence on the altar.

Devoutly I adore You, hidden Deity,
Under these appearances concealed.
To You my heart surrenders self
For seeing You, all else must yield.

We’re at different levels of spiritual maturity, have different desires and gifts, and different amounts of available time. There are only 24 hours in a day and we tire so easily, especially when we do something out of duty that we don’t yet enjoy.

There is no substitute for slow and careful experimentation. We can sometimes find groups that gather to pray Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and some parishes may even have a musical celebration of Evening Prayer under the Latin name of Vespers. We should be able to find holy hours in a nearby parish. There are also many gatherings of those who pray the common devotions.

We should try some different types of prayer. Once we have found a good schedule for our own development as a Christian and a member of the Body of Christ, we should be willing to add a little more during special times in the Church’s calendar. This may even show us new possibilities for a richer prayer life. If we prefer contemplative prayer but pray the rosary during Lent, we may find that the rosary helps us to enter a state of contemplation.

While we should avoid a lackadaisical attitude, except on warm summer evenings when it’s natural, we should remember that we don’t have to follow the rules rigidly for any of these prayers when we pray them as a purely voluntary offering to God and not under any oath. If we would like to do the Liturgy of the Hours, but can’t do the entire Morning Prayer on certainly days — just pray one or more psalms. If we use the rosary to enter a state of contemplation, we may find that one decade is sufficient.

We do always have to remember that this is serious. This is preparation for our life with God. We should raise our prayer life to a higher priority than television or tennis.

But we should take a somewhat playful attitude towards the development of a prayer life best suited to our needs, our current circumstances, and our responsibilities to others.

[The first verse of “Devoutly I Adore You” is taken from “The Aquinas Prayer Book” published by Sophia Institute Press.]

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Explore posts in the same categories: Christian spirituality, Christianity, Lenten meditations, Peace of Christ, Religion

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