RICHARD OF CHICHESTER
ST. IGNATIUS LOYOLA
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
Our favourite prayers influence us more than we know.
Over the years I've been told that it is best to make up our own
prayers, and to spontaneously speak with Our Lord. That there is nothing
to be gained from repeating the same things over and over again. Those
who tell me this, tend to quote Our Lord's remarks about 'vain repetition'.
I'm pretty sure that this is not what he meant though. For a start, left
to myself I am far too prone to repeat the same inane phrases over and
over, and to get really stuck in my own little rut. I need the prayers
of others to teach me better, to open my eyes to the rest of the world,
or even to shock me out of my own selfishness or unforgiveness. Somewhere
along the line I needed to be told that 'help me' is a prayer. That the
psalms speak at different times for every one of us and that it is rather
lovely to find oneself wandering around the house, doing one's chores thinking
"I love you, oh I love you" and meaning no mortal being by the words.
Then came the moment when I discovered that when I didn't know what
to say there were words in my head that fitted perfectly.
From an old hymn "Let us like them, without one word, rise up and
follow Thee". "Teach me, my God, and King", "Batter my heart", or even,
"Thanks be to Thee !"
They became my own words. Far from vain, they opened my spirit in
ways that had been dry before. When we visit the prayers of the Saints,
not all of them old, we are learning to pray with the whole body of Christ.
This is a prayer meeting which both teaches and enriches us. It may open
our eyes, ears and hearts. It may teach us to grow up. And it nearly always
bears generous fruit.