From Father's Desk

Dear Parish Family,

From our earliest days we have learned to “follow the directions.” Whether a recipe or changing a tire or a final exam, often we bend our ears and minds to the instructions of another. This is Week Three of our Message Series and we are in Part Three of the book, I Heard God Laugh, where we will spend two weeks. Our task this week is to put into practice the Prayer Process. We might think of it as a recipe for prayer.

For most of us, prayer is not new. We may have prayed our whole lives. As a boy, my mother taught me to pray. The instructions were basic: fold your hands, bow your head, talk to God as a father, don’t forget to thank Him. In high school, I learned that lifting our mind and heart to God can be a prayer, no words, just the acknowledgement of presence, more of a connection than a conversation. In college, Mother Mary helped me to make the rosary my own and some friends showed me the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Later, I took up the Breviary or the Liturgy of the Hours that priests and religious commit themselves to pray daily for the whole Church. In seminary, the prayer tool kit expanded with the Daily Examen, Lectio Divina, the Jesus Prayer, and a host of other techniques. All of these forms of prayer are not for everyone. We have to find what works for us, but I confess that having many tools and techniques at our disposal helps us to keep that connection with God.

Throughout these years, I learned four things. First, prayer has many flavors: walking in the woods with my Father is different than adoring the Son in the chapel. Each place and space and technique enriches our life of prayer the way a good cook collects recipes, learns them by heart but then also makes them his own, adapting and integrating the instructions of other experts. Second, different forms of prayer are best used at different times, or when we experience different moods. A rosary walk may be ideal when we feel too antsy to sit still with the Scriptures. Third, what works for me in one situation may not work for everyone else. Fourth, different teachers have different ways of instructing on similar matters. One may emphasize one aspect while another may favor another. As students of life, we need to learn from different masters. But the bottom line is if we want a rich life and a deep connection with God we need different techniques and tools to enrich our life and habit of prayer.

Today, Matthew Kelly introduces us to “The Prayer Process,” which is a variant of the daily examen (see above). On page 41, Kelly lays out the steps. Here is a summary in my own words: 1) Gratitude - thank God for the most grateful aspect of the day, 2) Awareness - review highs and lows of the day, 3) Significant Moments - dwell on a moment to discern God’s movement, 4) Peace - ask forgiveness, seek peace, 5) Freedom - invitation to change for greater freedom 6) Others - pray for others, 7) Finish - pray the Our Father. I have been putting this process into practice over the last few weeks. Admittedly, it has been a challenge to switch over from the daily examen to which I have grown so accustomed to these new steps, but that adaptation has led to some new freshness in my daily review with the Father. While it is not pivotal to hit every point everyday, it is essential to make that daily appointment with the Lord. We bear our hearts to Him and He bears His heart to us. In the process, we are configured more and more into the image of the Son so as to more faithfully live out our vocations in the world.

I would love to hear from you - to learn how you find this prayer process. Perhaps you might also check out one of the other links above. Let me know how God has been active in your life!

Yours in the Lord,
Fr. Wilson