I’ve been dwelling a lot on my prayer life of late – something I’m sure you’ve noticed by the subjects of my recent posts. This is probably because I’ve had a lot more time to devote to prayer since I’ve been on holidays. I hope I’ve created enough good prayer habits that they’ll carry on once I’m back at work. All of this dime thinking about prayer and it’s uplifting effects brought me back to piece I wrote a few years ago, and I thought to share it with you. It was inspired by a forgotten guest on a forgotten late-night radio program who delved into the idea that contemplative prayer is more of an emotion of love of the Lord than of simply reciting memorized prayers.
I would love to know your thoughts on The Emotion of Prayer:
The essence of prayer is not in the words that are said, the essence of prayer is in the emotions of love it evokes.
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
The elusive and almost indescribable bliss of oneness with the Lord is not unknown to those of us who pray regularly. Although we are constantly seeking out this comforting happiness, it happens upon us on very rare occasions, and usually without warning.
If it is this emotive state that we are seeking as prayer, why then do we need to follow the rigid formality of the prayers given to us by the Church? Simply, because theses prayers help sooth our souls and quieten our minds, making us fertile ground to receive God’s grace.
For those of us who have attained this spiritual tranquility, we understand that this emotion is our prayer, our dialogue with God, and that the words of our prayers are merely the medium that has opened up the lines of communication.
For many Catholics, their only exposure to prayer is in the fulfillment of their weekly obligation to attend Mass. The Mass is seen as the highlight of prayer in the life of the faithful because its repetition of routine allows for the quietening of the mind and the opening of the heart to God’s deeper mysteries.
The understanding of these mysteries and the emotions they evoke will be as varied as the individuals who experience them, and even then, they may not be experienced the same way twice by the same individual, nor will these emotions necessarily make themselves evident each and every time we attend Mass. Whether it is a charismatic-like vision of the Holy Spirit descending at the transubstantiation, the spreading of warmth through one’s body after taking communion or the sheer pleasure of seeing the innocent rapture on your child’s face as they pray; we cannot come to these emotions of rightness without first having quietened our souls through the process of worldly prayer.
The same emotions, the same sense of rightness, the same pleasure of being at one with God can also be attained through the meditative tranquility of prayer outside of the Mass.
The repetitiveness of the Rosary allows for the soothing away of life’s worries. It helps, also, that those who still say the Rosary on a regular basis will often do so in an environment of calm and quiet. The rhythmic clicking of beads and the cadence of the words allow our minds to focus on our spiritual needs, opening our hearts to God’s infinite wisdom.
Even the snippets of peace offered by daily prayer can allow for the emotion of prayer to come through. With the habitual pause for prayer the faithful will be able to find the tranquility of heart and soul to communicate with God.
As we pray, the words of our prayer will lead us to a better understanding of God, putting our souls in a better state to receive His grace, because without God’s love our voices are nothing but “a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.”