The topic of last Sunday's adult education lecture at my church was the Daily Prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. The Catechism states that prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words. I've been thinking about prayer a lot recently, probably because I haven't been praying all that much. Funny enough, earlier on the same day as the aforementioned lecture, I led the prayers for the Morning Prayer Service at my church. I accidently left out the Lord's Prayer -- several parishioners mentioned this, I hadn't even noticed.
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Prayer is an interesting thing. When I was taking my Bible study, I prayed, well, religiously -- we're talking on my knees, using the Lord's Prayer and then a free form prayer with penitence followed by thanksgiving and oblation and intercession and petition. I was pretty happy with that. I felt like it was a good discipline and usually felt peaceful afterwards. These days, I really haven't felt like praying that way and I haven't. I pray all the time, sort of an internal monologue in my head -- while driving, especially, its a semi-quiet time when my kids aren't interrupting me.
Prayer forms -- good or bad? I tend to avoid them because they seem coldly formal to me. They are something someone else has written. However, my own personal prayers tend to become formulaic pretty quickly, so I'm not so certain they are the better choice than a prepared prayer.
I'm currently reading (at an incredibly slow pace) Agnes Sanford's Behold Your God. From an early chapter on prayer, she proposes a method very new to me. First of all, it doesn't involve kneeling but relaxing the body so the mind and spirit can focus. I've always wondered if we're supposed to kneel -- I think C.S. Lewis once indicated that kneeling was an important reminder of our animal form (am I way off on this?) as a reverance to God. So, do I kneel or not? I don't like kneeling, it hurts my knees, I don't even kneel in church, I sit on the edge of the pew and lean forward onto the rail (am I going to hell for this? Just kidding, I really don't seen it as a damning offense).
Agnes also directs that in prayer we are seek to contact God, so we are to keep a clear mind, at least at first (she says to hold off on the intercessions until we've made contact). I probably haven't read enough of the book to understand what she's saying, but its a departure from the way I've looked at prayer. The idea of being silent (meditating, really) rather than babbling at God the way I do, is intriguing. Speaking of babbling, thats what I'm doing at this point, so I'll stop.