There are five things about prayer that I have learned from my time going to Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), Conyers, Georgia.
Without editorializing too much, I offer them for your consideration for those times you find yourself approaching the Sacred through prayer.
I. PRAY AS YOU CAN: Brother Michael, O.C.S.O. told us this during a conference on Lectio Divina. This is important because many times I don’t find myself in an environment conducive to praying. Either there is too much noise for me, or I am doing “things” to help the family and find myself waiting for my wife outside of Trader Joe’s market or going to the Premier Gym to exercise.
I learned that it does not make any difference in praying if I am in Premier Gym or attending the Eucharist. Each type of prayer is different and not to be confused with each other, but both or prayer, the lifting of the heart and mind to God. I pray as I can. I have done Lectio Divina outside Trader Joe’s waiting for my wife to finish her shopping. I have stopped waiting until I find quiet (usually impossible for me) and embraced noise as a form of silence. My mind focuses on Lectio Divina at Premier Gym in the midst of all that noise and distraction. I pray as I can.
II. PRAY WHEN YOU CAN: I learned that some days are better than others. Life sometimes throws me a curve in my intensity of prayer. I go to Eucharist, pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the morning and evening, do Lectio Divina, but there are times when I sit at Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee, Florida and sit on a park bench seeking God. Both types of prayer are part of my integrated spiritual life.
In being a Lay Cistercian, I am more and more aware of praying Lectio Divina outside of formal prayers with others. I am looking at the blue sky and praising God for his creation.
III. WORK IS PRAYER. Formal prayer is not the only time I pray. When I offer up my writing to God, my going to the Gym for exercise, whenever and wherever I find myself, I can sanctify the moment. It comes and it goes.
IV. LIFTING THE HEART AND MIND TO GOD. Prayer is nothing other than thinking of the one you love and wanting to sit next to them.
V. DON’T LIMIT PRAYER. Prayer may be formal or informal. It may take the form of contemplation as an individual or the prayer of the Church Universal, Eucharist in a community of Faith.