In the Catechism lessons of my Eighth Grade, I learned that prayer was a lifting of the heart and mind to God. During one of my Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) meditations (on the way to contemplation), I thought about the high ceilings of St. Francis Xavier School, on the second floor, large windows from floor to ceiling, two grades to a room, and no air conditioning. You do as you can.
I learned about prayer as thinking about God in the way that I thought about my mom and dad, sometimes I was angry with them, but much more likely, I respected them and wanted to be like both of them. As a Lay Cistercian, all these memories came swirling back as dry leaves on the front lawn reach to the sky, all the wonderful memories and smells of being in a place with lots of wood floors and stairs. Prayer then is as it is now. What has changed is me, my lessons learned, my faults accepted and some of them overcome, my attempts to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus. All of this is prayer because I lift it up to God as my gift, my praise and glory to the Father who allowed me to be an adopted son and a brother to Christ.
All of the times I wanted to stay away from my Cistercian prayers of Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours because I was lazy, all those times I convinced myself that I needed to have balance and I was praying too much, the times I was tempted to think God is not needed in my life, all are prayer. It sounds strange to think that your offer up your struggles as an acceptible sacrifice to the Father, but that is part of the maturation of prayer that happens to those who run the race seeking the finish line. It takes work to run the race.
Human Wickedness and Divine Goodness
To the leader. Of David, the servant of the Lord.
1 Transgression speaks to the wicked
5 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
10 O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
Prayer is the accumulation of your heart lifted up to God in humility and obedience to God’s will. We join this lifting with the gifts at the eucharist, lifted up by the priest to the Father with the Son in union with the Holy Spirit. It is all prayer.