Prayer is Life

Overview

Struggling to fit prayer into your jam-packed daily grind? You’re not alone.

Our latest chat with Redemptorist priest David Hore peels back the layers of complexity we often associate with prayer, revealing its rich simplicity. Fr David encourages us – whether we’re knee-deep in deadlines or juggling life’s demands – to find peace in bite-sized prayers and the quiet company of God throughout our day, rather than cramming for a spiritual session that feels more like a chore than a chat with the divine.

 

As we unpack the emotional hurdles that come with spiritual practices, Fr David sheds light on the unrealistic expectations we set for prayer. He compares it to the deepening of a long-term relationship, where the true connection lies not in constant excitement but in the comfort of simply being. This episode is an open invitation to embrace the ebb and flow of prayer, encouraging us to find comfort in those unassuming moments of silence and presence with God. Join us for an enlightening conversation that aims to reshape the way you approach your spiritual routine and find solace in the sacred ordinary.

Synopsis

The Prayer is Life podcast by Majellan Media with Redemptorist priest Fr David Hore CSsR 

In this podcast we look at Mastering the Practice of Prayer

There is no wrong or bad way to pray and there’s no single starting point for prayer. Single starting point for prayer. The great spiritual masters in the Christian tradition offer one really non-negotiable rule, that is, you have to turn up. You actually have to show up for prayer and show up regularly, and that requires commitment and that requires commitment. Everything else is negotiable and it respects our own unique circumstances, our choices, our preferences, and most days when people don’t pray or they’re unable to pray, it’s simply because they don’t get around to it. For many people, for all of us, it’s the busyness, the pace of life seems to just suck us through the day and we never get around to it. So prayer is truly a discipline and we have to make that commitment to it. And we have to make that commitment to it and we have to make a commitment to turn up and make the time for it and enter into the rhythm of prayer, and then it’ll become just naturally part of who we are and how we live our lives.

Solitude as a form of awareness, a way of being present and perceptive to life.

Solitude is really a form of awareness, of trying to be really present and perceptive to life, to what’s happening within us and around us, and it’s through being reflective in our daily lives that will lead us to become people of gratitude, of appreciation, of peacefulness, of enjoyment and prayer, that solitude leads us to the deeper things of life and we come to see that it’s the ordinariness of our lives that are so precious, so sacred, and that it’s enough. We don’t have to go looking for the extraordinary things. If we simply look at who we are and the ordinariness of our lives, we’ll discover beautiful things.

And solitude isn’t something that we simply turn on like a tap. It needs the body and the mind to be slowed enough so that we really are attentive to the present moment, is to really try to remain quietly in God’s presence, in solitude, silence and prayer. And I always encourage people to begin small and then build up. And what I’ve often discovered is the more that you can get yourself into a rhythm of solitude, of this quietness, this attentiveness, the more you actually yearn for it and desire it, and it grows naturally of its own accord, because you want to be there and you want to be there with God and you want to open yourself up to God’s presence and action in your life.

Getting into a routine – Like most things in life, routine is key.

Our culture keep us so entertained, so busy, so preoccupied and distracted that we often lose our focus on the deeper things of life, of life. And we can go along like this for years until something and it’s often a crisis or a difficulty that suddenly renders all the stimulation, all the entertainment in the world. It renders all of those things empty and superficial. And then we’re forced to look inside, and that can be a challenging or fearful place.

If we’ve spent years avoiding it, we have to know when it’s time to silence all the devices and resist the other claims on our lives and time, so that we’re not avoiding a discovery of our deeper selves and listening to what God might be saying to us.

So it is important that we find that time to go a little deeper, to really listen to God in the depths of our hearts, because God will be wanting to speak something very wonderful and beautiful to us, something of great quality, if you like, and it’s from there that God really wants us to grow and mature, and perhaps it’s to let go of things of the past. And it also might be to look at how am I living my life now? Am I living as God wants me to live? Am I living as the best person that I can be? Where do I need to grow? What do I need to let go of? And it’s important that we do that without all of the distractions. They can just pull us away from focusing on what’s really important, and that’s growing our relationship with God and becoming the best person I can be.

Being your authentic self and in God’s presence.

Being authentic in prayer simply means walking with God despite our flaws and our frailty. It means being in the divine presence in spite of the fact that we’re not perfect, we’re not always good, we’re not always true, we’re not always our best selves. But God wants us, and God asks us, to bring our helplessness, to bring our weaknesses, our imperfections and our sinfulness to God, to walk with God and never hide from God. And that’s that honesty, that authenticity, that vulnerability. God understands that we make mistakes and that we disappoint ourselves, but what God asks is that we share our lives with him and let God help us, especially when we’re powerless to help ourselves. And so every feeling and thought we have is a valid entry point into prayer, no matter how irreverent or unholy or selfish or sexual or angry that thought or feeling might seem. Simply put, if you go to pray and you’re feeling angry, then pray anger. If you’re sexually preoccupied, pray that preoccupation. If you’re feeling full of revenge, pray revenge. And if you’re feeling full of praise and thanksgiving, then praise and thank God.

What’s important is that we pray what’s inside us and not what we think God would like to see inside of us, no matter what we’re experiencing or going through in life, we need only to lift it up to God and it’s by doing that that God can transform. We need only to lift it up to God and it’s by doing that that God can transform and bring about change and bring about new life and bring about growth. So it is important to be who we are in prayer and whatever we’re experiencing, we can’t be something that we’re not. We can’t stop feeling whatever it is that we are feeling at that moment. But those feelings, whatever’s happening, that’s the entry point, that’s the starting point, and if we’re honest and we pray with and through those feelings and experiences, then it takes us deeper into the relationship with God and allows God to do wonderful things for us.

Accepting your own feelings and being honest with yourself can be difficult too.

Well, that’s right. It’s one of the things that people often say to me. It’s one of the things that people often say to me is that they don’t want to show God who they are, or they don’t want to be honest, they’re afraid they think God will somehow punish them if they’re feeling angry or full of revenge or hate or unforgiveness. They have that reluctance then to go to prayer with that feeling. And I always say to people if you’re angry with God, tell God. If you’re fed up with God, tell God. If you’re happy and full of joy, share it with God, but don’t be someone you’re not. Be who you are and bring to your prayer exactly what you’re feeling and experiencing.

It all gets back to faith in God ere.

The opposite of faith isn’t so much doubt, but more and more I’m discovering it’s anxiety. It isn’t so much the fear that God doesn’t exist, but rather it’s the fear that God doesn’t see us. Faith doesn’t guarantee that we’ll have no worries, or that we won’t make mistakes, or that we and our loved ones won’t sometimes fall victim to an accident or sickness. What faith gives us is the assurance that God is good, that God can be trusted, that God won’t forget us and that God is in charge. Faith says that God is real, god is creator and there’s ultimately nothing to fear. We’re in safe hands. God is gracious, forgiving, loving, redeeming and completely trustworthy. Our task is to surrender to that, and if we take seriously the words of Jesus, change your life and believe in the good news, then the coldness and the distrust brought upon us by shame must be overcome. Shame is powerful, its bite is deep, the scars are so often permanent, and so it’s good to try and bring the warmth, trust and spontaneity of childhood into our prayer with God, a God who delights in us and has no use for crippling shame.

Recently I was with a Redemptorist priest who was at the end stage of his life and clearly coming to the end of his earthly life. And as I was talking to him and he was sharing very a little about his life, right at the end he said something very powerful to me. He said I’m in good hands. And that was an extraordinary moment for me, just to see him and to hear him say that.

And he was a man who for decades had written about God, preached about God, taught about God and tried to really plumb the depths of how we might understand God. And it was extraordinary and beautiful to hear him. As he was about to make the journey to God, the final journey, he said to me simply I’m in good hands. And we asked him also are you praying for anything at this time? And he simply said, “The will of God”. And that man taught me a great lesson about the importance of faith and what it is, and that God is always constantly present and that we are in safe hands, God who is gracious, forgiving and loving. And if all of us could simply say I’m in God’s hands, I’m in good hands, then I think that can change the way we live our lives, not only now, but when we also make that final journey to the one who loved us into life.

How do we recognise God’s voice amongst all the daily noise.

This is one of the really challenging things about prayer and about life. We are surrounded by so many voices and it’s important to try to carefully discern and recognise God’s voice among and within the noise of all the conflicting voices. And I think Jesus gives us a clue through his use of a wonderful image when he says I am the good shepherd and his sheep will recognize his voice in the midst of all the others.

Jesus was drawing on a real-life situation of His day where at night, for protection and companionship, shepherds put their flocks together in a common enclosure and next morning the sheep would be separated by the shepherds through the use of their voice. Shepherds had trained their sheep to be attuned to their particular voice. Only the shepherd would call and the sheep would follow. And so, among all the voices that surround us and beckon us and often try to seduce us or lead us astray, we need to discern God’s unique voice and message, and I read once an author who put it this way he talked about sacred scripture and our Christian tradition can really help us, because God’s voice can be recognized both in the whispers and in the thunderstorm. God’s voice can be recognized in the call to something greater, but also in the call to holiness and the call to humility. God’s voice will challenge and stretch us, just as it soothes and comforts us and comforts us.

God’s voice can be heard in the poor and needy, just as it is through the artist and the prophet. God’s voice calls us to let go of fear, just as it calls us to trust and have faith. God’s voice can be heard in times of joy and gratitude, just as it’s heard in asking us to deny ourselves and take up our cross. So God’s voice is found in the experiences of our lives, and it’s the voice of the one who truly and intimately knows us and calls us by name.

© Transcript of podcast by Majellan Media 2024