Grace Notes: Living Prayer

During our Lenten sermon series on 5 HABITS, we broadened our understanding of prayer. Rather than prayer being simply moments or events set apart, we affirmed that prayer is about deepening our connectedness to the Holy which exists in all of life. Because you and I, and all that exists, exist in the heart of God – not separate from or apart, but rest deeply within God – prayer is about living in and absorbing the presence of God within me and within the world.

This understanding of prayer invites us to bring an open heart to all that we do – to live with an attitude of curiosity to see what is or what might be; seeking to learn and to understand what is in front of us in every moment. It asks us to desire to become self-aware – because only through self-awareness do we uncover the habits and thoughts which inhibit or derail our experience of connectedness to Life. It requires from us constancy in dark times and a willingness to pay attention to the Light in all the circumstances we can.

When we seek to live this way, our every moment becomes ripe with the possibility of being prayer.

It isn’t easy to live this way, there are so many things to distract us from our desire, yet there are practices that will support us becoming living prayer. One practice is to daily set an intention for how you want to be. Not what you want to do (not your agenda), but how you want to be – your actions, and thoughts and intentions. This daily affirmation sets the attitude for your actions, for your living.

A good practice is to notice your living, your thoughts and your actions, but do not critique your ‘success’. Living a life of prayer is not about success or failure – no matter what our culture teaches. A life of prayer is about paying attention, noticing what you notice. We cannot force change to happen in this; what we can do is pay attention and be open for change to occur. Change will occur if you pay attention; relax into God’s presence and change will come.

Creating pauses throughout your day is a practice that nurtures living prayer – brief moments (or longer times) where you have no agenda but to simply rest and be in God. These moments help recall you to yourself – remind you of who you are at your core and of how you choose to live.

One pause-practice I find helpful is 5-Breaths. It can be done at any time, in any place.

  • 5-Breaths: Close your eyes & place your hands over your heart, then take 5 breaths…
  • In the 1st breath – relax your shoulders.
  • In the 2nd breath – notice how your breath moves in your body.
  • In the 3rd breath – try to let go of anything pulling on you.
  • In the 4th breath – feel the space your ‘letting go’ opens inside you.
  • In the 5th breath – let yourself rest in this space.

All of life is ripe with the possibility of being prayer … ripe with the possibility of living, moving, breathing in the flow of God’s presence. Blessings on your journey.

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