Day before yesterday, I wrote that the development of mainstays and/or changes in our spiritual formation takes time, and that one way we can discern something is taking root is we miss it when we do not practice it.
With respect to my journey into liturgical prayer, I want to be a little more specific about what I am coming to “miss” when I move away from it.
Most of all, I miss the sense of being guided into prayer, rather than just praying what comes to my mind at any given time. I’ve discovered that liturgical prayer does not eliminate or even reduce the “spontaneous” expressions that were previously the foundation of my daily prayer life. All that is still there.
But liturgical prayer invites me into a larger arena than the things which “come to mind” when I bow my head to pray.
Upon awakening, I am invited into the realization that God is with me, and to resolve to live another day for God as Jesus’ disciple. I am invited into singing, into the affirmation of my faith, into lectio divina, into the communion of the saints, into intercessions that I might otherwise forget, into praying the Lord’s Prayer, and into an expanded sense of being part of the Christian community—the Body of Christ.
I am led into prayer. I do not have to make it up as I go along. My prayer times are not determined by my personal preferences or my ability to “remember” all the things I should pray for. And most importantly, I am not “in control” of my prayers. So, on many days, it’s more like the prayers are praying me, than I am praying them. I am called to prayer by the mysterious interplay of Spirit and Church.
When I step away from this pattern, I “miss” it. I feel more alone and isolated—more subjective and self-determining. I do not think that my spirituality is defined by my style. But my sense of things is. And I am living into a way of praying that is grander and more “Wonder-full” than it was when I was limited to my own impressions, ideas, and lists.