BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.
Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.
Sit still…..Relax…….Do not rush………
Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……
Now from the depth of your heart begin to wish your mind well……….
Take a moment. Bless your day. Let your day Bless you……Take another moment. Bless your world. Let your world bless you……
Every day that we wake up is a good day. Every breath that we take is filled with hope for a better day. Every word that we speak is a chance to change what is bad into something good…….Now from the depth of heart, wish your mind well……
Now I invite you to consecrate this day and all that come with this day….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..
I pray for you and I invite you to pray for each other and for all, who, at this moment, are receiving the gift of this new day!
We continue our meditation on keeping our faith alive. Our last meditation was on keeping our faith alive by striving to virtuous lives, by starting over and making new beginnings, practicing of Christian virtues. And that is what should keep our faith alive today.
This meditation is on prayer and prayerfulness as essential to keeping our faith alive. How could faith be kept alive without intimate contact with the one in whom we believe? This meditation is more on “prayerfulness” than on saying prayers.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them the way of praying, the way of being in the presence of a father who loves, who knows our needs, who gives even without our asking and who is generous in giving. He taught them to trust in the father who comes from abundance, from generosity…from LOVE!
Prayerfulness is an attitude, an inner disposition of mind and heart, a hunger and a thirst, a longing, a yearning, an impelling desire for God and God’s ways. The hunger for God is itself God’s gracious gift to us. The desire for communion with God has been set within the human heart since the dawn of time. This desire is the gift of God. The mystery of this communion touches what is most intimate in us, reaching down to the very depths of our being, to the sacred core, to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Prayerfulness demands openness to silence and solitude. Psalm 131 speaks of the “stilled and quieted” soul that finds confidence, “hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.”
At times prayer becomes silent. Peaceful communion with God can do without words. “I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother (Ps. 131:2).” Like the satisfied child who has stopped crying and is in its mother’s arms, so can “my soul be with me” in the presence of God. Prayer then needs no words, maybe not even thoughts.
Sometimes we are apparently silent, and yet we have great discussions within, struggling with imaginary partners or with ourselves. Calming our souls requires a kind of simplicity: “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too sublime for me” (Ps. 131:1). Silence means recognizing that my worries can’t do much. Remember, worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but takes you nowhere!
Silence means leaving to God what is beyond my reach and capacity. A moment of silence, even very short, is like a minute vacation, a holy stop, a sabbatical rest, a truce of worries.
The turmoil of our thoughts can be compared to the storm that struck the disciples’ boat on the Sea of Galilee while Jesus was sleeping. Like them, we may be helpless, full of anxiety, and incapable of calming ourselves. But Christ is able to come to our help as well. As he rebuked the wind and the sea and “there was a great calm”, he can also still or quiet our hearts when it is agitated by fears and worries (Mark 4). Remaining silent, we trust and hope in God.
When God’s word becomes “a sound of sheer silence”, it is more efficient to change our hearts. The heavy storm on Mount Sinai was splitting rocks, but it is the sudden silence that spoke to Elijah. God’s silent word is able to break open human hearts of stone.
Silence makes us ready for a new meeting with God. In silence, God’s word can reach the hidden corners of our hearts. In silence, we stop hiding before God, and the light of Christ can reach and heal and transform even what we are ashamed of.
Jesus said, “Whenever you pray, go to your room, close your door and pray to your Father in private. Then, your Father who sees what no man sees, will repay you….your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Mt. 6:6-8).
Prayerfulness implies withdrawal to quiet places, to be alone with the father, to abide in the Father’s Love. Jesus set this as an example for us to follow.
In the Gospel of Mark, we read the story of Jesus sending out his disciples on their first mission (Mark 6:30-34). They returned from their mission and began to tell him about their journey and their accomplishments of the day. Jesus, gently and quietly, invited them to a “deserted place” to rest a while.
From the very beginning of their ministry, Jesus taught the disciples about the need for time, away from work and service projects, the need for time to rest, relax, pray…time for peace, time to spend with their master…to abide in him.
The disciple must go from the master to fulfill the master’s mission and must return to the master to be strengthened and filled again with the master’s wisdom.
The “busyness”, the trials, the testing times, the challenges, etc. of the mission can stifle the spirit and become burdens heavy to carry. One can become so busy with the master’s work that he/she can forget the master himself. It is easy to lose focus. It is urgent to maintain focus, to be centered again and again on God and God’s way.
“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back quite gently and place it tenderly in God’s presence. And if you do nothing else while at prayer but bring your heart back again and again and place it in God’s presence………..though it went away every time you brought it back, your time of prayer would be very well spent” (Introduction to Devout Life, St. Francis De Sales).
One of our greatest challenges is to accept that when we take solitude and are idle (just sit or dwell, as I often say), we are doing very difficult but important work.
When prayer is a struggle, do not worry about the prayers that you cannot pray. You yourself are a prayer to God at that moment. All that is within you cries out to Him.
If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back quite gently and place it tenderly in God’s presence. And if you do nothing else while at prayer but bring your heart back again and again and place it in God’s presence………..though it went away every time you brought it back, your time of prayer would be very well spent” (St. Francis De Sales)
To pray is to open ourselves to the Father so that our entire life – from the seeking of daily bread to the transformation of the world – is filled with God’s will and purpose.
Don’t ask God for what you think is good;
ask Him for what He thinks is good for you.
The God to whom we pray is a God of love, who is more ready to answer than we are ready to pray. We do not have to force His Gifts and His Grace out of Him. We do not come to a God who has to be coaxed, or pestered, or battered into answering our prayer. We come to the ONE who simply wills to give. We, actually, come into the presence of the ONE who has already GIVEN. We come with desire in our hearts and words on our lips: “Thy will be done.”
Seeking His will keeps our faith alive and our faith keeps us alive in Him!
Let us strive to be true to ourselves, to be authentic in all we say and do, to be steadfast in living our faith and keeping our faith alive. May the “Year of Faith” be God’s wonderful gift to you and I pray that you will make it a gracious and joyful gift to others.
Keep your faith alive and your faith will keep you alive!
Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs