Different people are drawn to different ways of praying. I keep being reminded of this in one to one conversations and offering workshops.
There is no point forcing ourselves into a model and method of prayer that does not work for us.
So here is a list of some of the main traditions of Christian silent prayer and meditation.
As you read it try to notice if one of them catches your attention more than others. This might give some idea of the direction you might want to go next. This paying attention is also a key element of many of the methods themselves.
A period of silence, using a word said silently as a focus to lead us into deeper silence and stillness.
A slow reading of scripture passage several times, while watching to see where our attention is drawn.Then sitting for a period of silence with the word or phrase to which we were drawn.
A way of using the imagination to picture, hear, feel and even smell the scene of scripture.The asking ‘where am I in this passage?’ and sitting quietly with what comes to mind.
A way of looking back on the day to notice and sit with moments when we had energy and/or felt close to God and able to love, as well as those times when we felt drained of energy and felt far away from God and unable to love.
Prayer of the heart.
Placing the attention in the body, particularly the heart, and holding situations and people there so that they are both ‘in mind and in the body’.
Mantra or repeating phrase.
The Jesus Prayer is a good example of this where a phrase is used in formal prayer and during activities as a way of maintaining awareness and praying constantly.
Both the Rosary and the Lutheran ‘Pearls of Life’ offer a structured physical way to pray, using repeated words to give focus and to get beyond the words.
Pilgrimage, labyrinths and walking meditation.
These are all ways to use the movement of the body as prayer.
Practice of the presence of God.
A way of being open to the full experience including God’s presence during daily life.
Did you notice which drew your attention more than others? If so this might indicate something to explore further. If nothing clicked today, keep watching and observing!
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Many of these ways overlap with each other. One favourite method might not last a whole lifetime.
This article was first circulated as part of our weekly mailing week about different aspects of meditation and contemplation in Christian tradition. If you would like to subscribe to the list please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org