There is no one way to pray; there are as many ways as there are pray-ers. Teresa of Avila says, “Prayer is nothing but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary converse, with Him Who we know loves us.” Prayer is my personal relationship with my God, Who speaks to me every day in His Word, in the secret prayer of my heart, and in the events of my life. I need only to listen—and to respond.
Because we are human, we learn in different ways: there are visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners. It is the same in prayer. Visual pray-ers appreciate the beauty of nature/creation; they enjoy reading the psalms; they glean ideas from the Bible and from the various books on prayer.
Auditory pray-ers often sing their prayers—their favorite hymns or psalms. They pray best when listening to music—a Celtic harp or the wind of an autumn day, or even the silence of a quiet room or church.
Kinesthetic pray-ers like to “feel” their prayers. The touch of rosary beads between their fingers, the motion of chopping vegetables in the kitchen, sharing with young couples in marriage preparation, or journaling about what inspired them each day.
Just as there is no one way to learn, there is no one way to pray, and we often combine the different ways for a more fruitful prayer life. I believe that many pray-ers combine a contemplative stance with an active stance at prayer … moving the rosary beads, murmuring the prayers, and mentally picturing the various mysteries of the rosary.
For me, Teresa of Avila is the model who represents a Teresa/Carmel moment in prayer: early morning in a quiet chapel, the time of a Jesuit exam in the evening looking back over the day, or journaling about what inspired me during that day.
Sr. Dominica is the model who represents active moments for me. I remember her in Spencer Hospital’s main kitchen, sleeves rolled back, wearing a huge white apron, cooking, and at the same time being present to everyone who worked there. My “Dominican” moments happen when I’m focusing on trying to veganize a recipe, or facilitating a baptismal session with a young couple, or sharing in the RCIA process with the candidates.
The early morning is the time when it is easiest for me to pray – having coffee with God, and being on the Loyola Press website for the 3-Minute Retreat that sets the tone for my day.
Every pray-er has the grace to form his or her own prayer life — to see what is the best “fit” for him or her and, at the same time, always remembering that nothing will remain the same; when it doesn’t enliven your prayer, you need to seek another method. In this way, your prayer will be a living, grace-filled lifestyle.