God our Creator is love, and He made us for love. To each of us He gave the capability to be in a close and loving relationship with Him. This relationship of love is nourished by and grows through prayer. So, prayer is the most vital practice in one’s spiritual life.
Let’s look at our prayer time. When we are at prayer what is it like? Do we spend our time doing a lot of talking to God? Do we spend much time listening for God’s voice? My guess is that we do a lot of talking and little, if any, listening.
The responsorial refrain for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time urges, “If today you hear his voice; harden not your hearts.” This implies that prayer would have to be a two-way street with a time for talking to God and a time for being quiet so as to listen to him.
Our deepest, most meaningful conversations with God happen in silence. Entering into silence often feels uncomfortable, like visiting an alien place. This is because we have adjusted to living in such a noisy milieu. We are bombarded with blaring tv’s, strident music, ringing cell phones, the din of traffic. The list of aural disturbances goes on and on. So, entering into a prayerful listening mode means that first we have to disconnect from all unnecessary noise.
Having created a surrounding conducive to silent prayer, we might try a prayer form called meditation. Catholic meditation is active. We focus our mind and imagination to ponder on a specific Scripture passage, or on a spiritual scene, or on a religious image. Here are some suggestions. Choose a narrative passage from one of the gospels, like the story of Jesus healing the paralytic in Mark 2; or choose one of the 14 Stations of the Cross, such as Veronica wiping the face of Jesus; or hold a crucifix and consider Jesus’ Passion.
After making the Sign of the Cross, and having asked for help from the Holy Spirit, we begin to imagine ourselves as part of the story or scene or object that we have chosen. We bring our senses into play. We can ask questions like, “What do I see? What can I hear? How do I feel?” Then might ask, “What did all this mean to the people of that time? What does it means to me now?” The Holy Spirit, whom we have asked to help us, guides us in our reflections. We allow silent time to let everything sink in, to hear God’s voice. He may have a surprise in store!
We end our meditation by thanking God for enlightening us and making His presence known. The Sign of the Cross is a good way to conclude our meditation time.