ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING: Prayerful awareness, contemplation, meditation, and reflection

April brings to our minds moments of contemplation, meditation, and reflection, of praying and of total communion with God and nature. Like Christmas, the Lenten season brings us goodwill and gratification. We all claim to pray daily, night and day, in the worst of times and in the best of times. But do we really know the essence of praying, of prayer?

Praying is a very personal experience, an inner talk, a spiritual submersion of oneself to the inner sanctum of his humanity, a very intimate talk to the Heavenly Beings, to God Almighty.

“Prayer is the basic exercise of the human spirit. Prayer is not just speaking, but hearing, not just talking, but listening; not just a receiving, but a giving; not just a seeking, but a finding; not just a monologue, but a dialogue; not just a resting, but a  striving; not just an escape from life’s turmoil, but a challenge to battle.”

Paul Giustiniani, a business tycoon and a scholar in Renaissance Venice, and once a man of the world, turned into a hermit at age thirty four and found a life of complete peace and harmony in prayer.

According to Giustiniani, he used a method in six words to approach God in prayer. These he called steps we can use and can overlap as the need be. The steps are I adore, I honor, I thank, I appeal, I await, I desire.

In adoration we honor God as God. God is Holy. He is absolutely free to be present to us in His Holy love. We stand in awe, in worship and in wonder of His majesty and greatness. To honor is to pay reverence to God. Reverence is the free response to God for revealing His glory and love. The spirit ofreverence gives shape, direction and strength to all moral life.

In thanking God we show gratitude. Gratitude is thebasic sign of a prayerful life. Prayer is the axis around which everything rotates. As God’s creations, we perceive everything as a gift. To appeal is to petition for favors and grace to be given upon us. God knows what we need and He gives it to us.

In awaiting we contemplate. Contemplation is to fix silently our mind on the majesty, omnipotence, grace, and beauty of God. It is the higher form of prayer. It opens us to all creation and reality. It leads us to see God in everything and see everything in God and to see everything as God sees it. Prayer can take the form of a reverence towards all living things and of an endeavor of not harming or destroying anything or anyone for that matter.

To desire to pray is already a prayer. The desire of God, nourished by faith and hope is already a true prayer. Psalm 39 says, “Lord, you have examined me. You know everything I do; from far away you understand all my thoughts. You see me, whether I am working or resting; you know all my actions. Even before I speak, you already know what I will say.”

Prayer makes us attentive and aware that our lives are purposely planned to produce results. Prayer is an awareness of God’s faithful and forgiving acceptance of us, as we are, far beyond anything that we deserve. Prayerful awareness is a vivid perception, allied to bright imagination that makes us live in the here and now, not in the elsewhere, in the past and in the future.

Prayerful awareness is self-acceptance. When we accept God in our lives, we must accept ourselves as well. We do much psychological harm to ourselves when we do not accept our own limitations of health, intelligence, of knowledge, of what we have, of our capacity in doing things and other talents as well.

The person who is aware of himself is alive. He knows how he feels, what he thinks, what he is doing. In all things, he does his best and asks God’s help to do better.

Alfred Tennyson says, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dream of.” Let’s all pray for all of us, for all the people in the earth, for our country, and for all the nations in the world. The world is getting bigger and smallerevery day; we must remember that we are all bigger than anything else. And we have a God who is the biggest and the most powerful. May we all have a reflective Holy week!

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