THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE: How deep is your prayer life?
My life has been a curious combination of private and public prayer, sometimes created by me spontaneously (Lectio Divina), while other times praying rituals that seek routine consistency as a way to praise God. All prayer, no matter the kind or type, is simply you taking time to say Thank You to God for the undeserved blessings you receive. I am not locked into one type of prayer. I am locked into praying.
When I think about prayer, I don’t just measure its effectiveness by how many prayers I say or how long I am in Lectio Divina meditation (although I have been known to lose track of time from time to time). As a result of my exposure to Cistercian thinking about silence, solitude, prayer, work, and community, my emphases have been growing deeper in Christ Jesus vertically or in the moment.
Here is an example of what I mean by “vertical” prayer. In my past blogs and writings, I bring up something that I term “the levels of spiritual awareness.” These are conscious movements deeper into the present, but that helps me probe the Holy Spirit’s limitless energy.
- SAY THE WORD: If I say Lectio Divinea meditations or recite the Liturgy of the Hours, I can just read the words. Holy words produce a spiritual outcome when I place myself in the presence of Christ and seek God each day. Saying the words with devotion is itself an outcome. But, can I dig deeper into prayer? This level produces knowledge.
- PRAY THE WORD: As I say the Word, something happens to me because the object of my focus is to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). I autonomously slip into the next level of spiritual awareness, realizing that these sacred words and thoughts put me into contact with the Sacred through love. Praying is saying with the awareness that God communicates through the words I utter. Again, can I grow deeper? This level produces love.
- SHARE THE WORD: One thing I have noticed about God as revealed by Christ is that His mission was to share God with all humans so that we could share Christ with each other. Praying where two or three are gathered in his Name means that there is only One Christ but each person uniquely approaches the Word with the sum of who they have become (both grace and sin). We join our horizontal prayer from me to God in a more deeper way, which now becomes we to God. This level produces service based on love and knowledge (God’s not ours). As wonderful as this is, can there be something deeper in prayer?
- BE THE WORD YOU READ, AND SHARE TOGETHER. In this level of prayer, there are fewer words but more a loving to be with the one you love, even just waiting in the presence of Christ for the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. In this level love becomes real, even if invisible. But wait! Is there more (there is almost more with God)?
- REALIZE THAT YOUR PRAYERS ARE NOT TO GIVE GOD HE DOES NOT HAVE, BUT RATHER TO RATIFY THE COVENENT OF THE OLD AND THE NEW TESTAMENTS, ONE THAT LEADS TO HUMAN COMPLETION, YET HAS NO BEGINNING NOR ENDING TO YOUR PRAYERS. Read the very first question and answer that each human must ask with the correct response. What is the purpose of life? Christ gives us the answer in Deuteronomy 6:5 and in Matthew 22:38.