I wonder what your ideas are about prayer? Maybe you grew up with the ‘hands together, eyes closed’ approach, which somehow doesn’t really make sense any more, but you have never found a more adult way to pray. Or perhaps it is quite simply a shopping list of things that you want God to sort out – as though he is a great magician in the sky, who will somehow make everything better. And when you haven’t always got the answers you hoped for, your faith and belief has been tested or broken. Or perhaps you have discovered the riches of a life of prayer. In truth, most people tell me that they find prayer difficult, yet they do pray (even though they don’t consider themselves to be religious).
Our academy visit to the Taizé Community last summer taught us something different about prayer. We were lead into reflection, meditation and stillness, with an extended silence, three times a day. Initially it was a struggle for most of us! But actually, we didn’t have to do anything, or say anything. We didn’t have to use clever or religious words. We didn’t have to impress anyone or achieve anything. We just had to be. To be still. And the more stillness we found, the more some of us wanted! It was extraordinary and life-giving.
This experience revealed to us the importance of taking time out to nurture our inner being, our soul, to just be still before God, and to leave the rest to him. I really like this quote from Brother Roger, the founder of the Taizé Community – a person who truly discovered what prayer can be:
Holy Spirit, consoling Spirit, when we remain in your presence, silent, at peace, that is already prayer. You understand everything about us, and at times even a simple sigh can be a prayer’.
Try taking just a few minutes each day to be completely silent and still and may we each know peace within ourselves, regardless of the challenges we face.