preparing to write a chapter on prayer


We are getting ready to consider our Chapter of the Rule of Life on Prayer.  This will tempt some to give up.  Don’t.  Prayer can be a very intimidating chapter  to write.  “Will I get it right?” will be a fear many will feel as they write.  Write anyway!  Just write about 600-1000 words or less and then worry about getting it right later.  If you have trouble wiring this chapter (or any chapter) simply pretend you are writing a letter to yourself.  “Dear me, here is what I hope for my life regarding _______. and here is what I know Jesus said about it: ….and here is what I think about _______ and here is what I hope that _____ will do in my life and what relationship I want to have with _____ in my life.”  Etcetera.

As you think and google the topic of prayer, remember the chapter outline:

Writing a Sample Chapter of a Rule of Life

TITLE: Prayer

What do you see in scripture, church tradition or reason regarding this topic?

What do you see in yourself regarding this topic?

What are your goals for how your life will express this topic?

What measures will you take to encourage the goals you have set for yourself (people, resources, checks and balances, boundaries, etc.)?

What do you seek from God in assistance regarding this topic?

And here are some quotes on Prayer:

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” ― Mother Teresa

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ― Meister Eckhart
“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” ― Oswald Chambers

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” ― Corrie ten Boom

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.” ― Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” ― Corrie ten Boom

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” ― Martin Luther

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” ― Oswald Chambers

“Be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“The Ego is a veil between humans and God’.” “In prayer all are equal.” ― Rumi
“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” ― Thérèse de Lisieux
“the real “work” of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing– that demands real effort. ” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness.” ― Martin Luther

“Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.” ― Thomas Aquinas

“If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“[Praying] demands that you take to the road again and again, leaving your house and looking forward to a new land for yourself and your [fellow human]. This is why praying demands poverty, that is, the readiness to live a life in which you have nothing to lose so that you always begin afresh.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

“It is of great importance, when we begin to practise prayer, not to let ourselves be frightened by our own thoughts.” ― Teresa of Ávila, The Life of Saint Teresa of Ávila by Herself

“At such times, the heart of man turns instictively towards his Maker. In prosperity, and whenever there is nothing to injure or make him afraid, he remembers Him not, and is ready to defy Him; but place him in the midst of dangers, cut him off from human aid, let the grave open before him, then it is, in the time of his tribulation, that the scoffer and unbelieving man turns to God for help, feeling there is no other hope, or refuge, or safety, save in his protecting arm.” ― Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave

“We do not want to be beginners [at prayer]. but let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything but beginners, all our life!” ― Thomas Merton

“But the very fact that this world is so challenging is exactly why you sometimes must reach out of its jurisdiction for help, appealing to a higher authority in order to find your comfort.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.” ― C.S. Lewis

“Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger. Pray not for crutches but for wings.” ― Phillips Brooks

“Spirituality without a prayer life is no spirituality at all, and it will not last beyond the first defeats. Prayer is an opening of the self so that the Word of God can break in and make us new. Prayer unmasks. Prayer converts. Prayer impels. Prayer sustains us on the way. Pray for the grace it will take to continue what you would like to quit.” ― Joan D. Chittister, In a High Spiritual Season

A growing community must integrate three elements: a life of silent prayer, a life of service and above all of listening to the poor, and a community life through which all its members can grow in their own gift.” ― Jean Vanier, Community And Growth

“To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit… A praying life is just the opposite. It engaged evil. It doesn’t take no for an answer. The psalmist was in God’s face, hoping, dreaming, asking. Prayer is feisty. Cynicism, on the other hand, merely critiques.
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“And why do you pray, Moshe?” I asked him. “I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions.” ― Elie Wiesel, Night

“For most of us the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model. Removing mountains can wait.” ― C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

“I pray for all of us, oppressor and friend, that together we may succeed in building a better world through human understanding and love, and that in doing so we may reduce the pain and suffering of all sentient beings.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

And here is chapter TWENTY-TWO SSJE Rule of Life

Prayer and Life

    God the Holy Spirit longs to inspire in us prayer that includes and embraces the whole of our life.  It is a great privilege to be called to the religious life, which offers us every opportunity and encouragement to welcome the Spirit’s transforming grace so that prayer may enter more and more into all that we are and all that we do.

    Resisting the tendency to restrict prayer to set times, we are to aim at eucharistic living that is responsive at all times and in all places to the divine presence.  We should seek the gifts which help us to pray without ceasing.  The Spirit offers us the gift of attentiveness by which we discern signs of God’s presence and action in creation, in other people and in the fabric of ordinary existence.  We are called to spiritual freedom by which we surrender fretfulness and anxiety in order to be available to God in the present moment.  There is the gift of spontaneity, which gives rise to frequent brief prayers throughout the day in which we look to Christ and express our faith, hope and love.  There is the gift of prompt repentance, which encourages us to turn to God and ask for forgiveness the instant we become aware of a fall.  Through these and other like gifts, prayer comes to permeate our life and transfigure our mundane routines.

    The life of prayer calls for the courage to bring into our communion with Christ the fullness of our humanity and the concrete realities of our daily existence, which he redeemed by his incarnation.  We are called to offer all our work to God and ask for the graces we need to do it in Christ’s name.  In our prayer we are to test whether God is confirming our intentions and desires or not.  We are able to pray about one another, our relationships and common endeavors.  We are to bring him our sufferings and poverty, our passion and sexuality, our fears and resistances, our desires and our dreams, our losses and grief.  We must spread before him our cares about the world and its peoples, our friends and families, our enemies and those from whom we are estranged.  Our successes and failures, our gifts and shortcomings, are equally the stuff of our prayer.  We are to offer the night to God as well as the day, our unconscious selves as well as our conscious minds, acknowledging the secret and unceasing workings of the Spirit in the depths of our hearts.

    This deep intention at the heart of our life to find God in all things means learning to trust that divine companionship continues undiminished even when we feel only boredom and  frustration.  We can learn to stay still in our experience of numbness and resistance, and trust that Christ is just as truly alive in our hearts in these times as in those in which we enjoy the sense of his presence.
    The more we discover through prayer how completely the divine presence permeates our life, the greater will be the integrity of our ministry as we teach others to pray.  Men and women come to us not merely to learn to pray, but to learn to pray their lives.  The prayer that has spread its roots into our whole life bears fruit a hundredfold as we use the resource of our own experience in guiding and initiating others.

Now…begin to imagine your Chapter on Prayer….

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