Prayer

     There is a traditional definition of prayer: “Prayer is the raising of one’s heart and mind to God,” (St. John Damascene).  While this is certainly true from a certain perspective, that is not my basic experience of what prayer is.
     To me, prayer is quieting my heart and mind in order to let God reach me.  He is wanting to reach me at all times–He is constantly extending His love, attention, care and affection to me.  But I block it, I get distracted, I put my mind (quite fixedly) on lesser things.  I become preoccupied with all the things I must do: all the ways I must do and be and love and work for others and myself.
     How marvelous when I stop this onslaught of inferior thoughts, and let God come to me!  When I sit down in quiet, settle my mind, and nourish my spirit with words from the Holy Scriptures, the Spirit of God comes to me.  I read the words slowly, and not too many at a time.  Just a few phrases until something grabs my attention.  I then read that word or phrase over and over (lectio divina).  And then I open myself up to the Father, to Jesus.  The Spirit of God brings them to me, and usually He soothes, blesses, and encourages me.  Sometimes He admonishes me.  Sometimes He directs me.  But more often than not, He bathes me in peace, in quiet, in stillness.  He reminds me that I am His beloved.  He takes care of me like a little baby: rocks me, comforts me, caresses me.  I am never, ever more relaxed, more truly who I am than when I am lost to Him in prayer.
     Certainly, in all of this, He is the one doing the work.  I am not raising up or reaching out: He is doing all the reaching, the finding, the lavishing.  It is restful for me, and all the labor is, lovingly, His.