One evening last week, I decided to take a walk with the Lord. The sky was moonlight and an autumn chill was in the air. So after dinner I put a sweater on and walked meditatively around the seminary property. I typically pray the examen in the late afternoon while sipping a fresh cup of hot coffee; but this day was different. I felt drawn to walk outside and talk with the Lord. I contemplated Jesus walking by my side, His right arm around my shoulders, listening attentively to me sharing my day with Him. Truthfully, it’s the type of prayer that several years ago I may have been tempted to call corny. Have you ever noticed that some of the things you used to think were corny are actually things that you now do?
What did I talk to the Lord about? I just thanked Him for the many blessings that He’d given me that day. I then spoke with Him about the events of my day and both the interior joys and struggles as well. I told Him I saw His love in a student at Rhode Island College who was so happy to see me that she ran up and hugged me. I laughed at myself as I told Him how aggravated I was as I sat in a meeting that I felt was wasting my time. I even thanked Him for the new John Mayer CD I purchased that’s added pleasure to my driving. I spoke to Him about the people that I had encountered during the day and I prayerfully offered them to Him, asking Him to bless them and to take care of their needs. I asked His forgiveness for the times that I did not respond well to His grace, and I told Him that I would try to do better tomorrow.
I know He listened attentively to me as my heart spoke to His, and I tried to listen to Him when I asked how He was calling me to live in deeper holiness. I experienced His presence, His encouragement, and His forgiveness. I felt hopeful knowing that He loves me, despite my weakness and sin. Yes, I had lived an imperfect day, but I was deeply aware that His love is greater than my sin. He wasn’t condemning me; He was encouraging me to keep going, never to give up, and to live in deeper friendship with Him.
I don’t share this experience with you to hold myself up as a model of prayer; I share it with you to help you in your own prayer. Prayer is about a heart to heart conversation with the Lord, our best friend. Prayer is about walking with the Lord, our hearts speaking to His and His to ours. Sometimes I think we complicate our prayer. The Lord wants us to keep it simple. He desires to have a deep friendship with us.
As a priest, I have had many people ask me how to pray. In future posts I will continue to write about prayer, how to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord, and how to find him in our daily lives. For now, if you desire a deeper relationship with the Lord, here is what I offer to you:
- Find a quiet place in nature to take a walk with Him today
- Find a quiet space in your house today to sit and speak with Him, heart to heart
- If you’re driving by a church today, stop in and spend time in silence visiting with our Lord
- If you’re at work, take a few minutes to slow down and speak to Him from your heart
- If you’re driving today, keep the radio off for a little while and talk to the Lord from your heart; acknowledge that He is with you.
He’s always with us. He always listens to us. He’s our best friend.