today’s reading: 5 fresh ideas for renewing prayer

by N.

1. Focusing on a Sense

God gave us our five senses. Select one and simply notice how that sense is being engaged. If you pick hearing, you may notice the hum of the refrigerator or the quiet breeze outside. If you choose touch, you may notice the pressure on your body from the chair or an itch on your neck. Pray with one sense, and recognize it as a gift from God.

2. Water Offering

One of my favorite kinds of prayer comes from Rachel Naomi Remen’s book My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging. Remen suggests filling a bowl slowly with water, letting the water represent the various “contents” of your life: your health, your gifts, your weaknesses, your family, your triumphs, your possessions, and your history. Place the bowl in a special place and offer it to God. Like the Suscipe says, “All that I have and hold…to you, Lord, I return it.” At the end of the day empty the bowl into the earth.

3. Slow Prayer

Choose a prayer you know well, like the Our Father, and recite it very slowly. Go one word at a time, without rushing, letting the individual word speak to you. Relish its meaning. Let it touch you. Then move to the next word. It’s okay if you spend the entire prayer time on just a single word!

4. The High-Low Prayer

In this shortened form of the Examen, ask yourself what the high point of your day was and why. Then ask yourself what the low point was and why. Share these two moments with God, and engage in a conversation with God about them.

5. The Prayer of Doing

Many spiritual directors will tell you that prayer is not about doing. However, why not make something you already do into a prayer? For instance, if you exercise, notice your body movements. Acknowledge how God animates you and gives you life. If you’re cleaning the house, be present to the work as if each action of wiping or organizing glorifies God. If you’re cooking, pay attention to the foods’ colors and smells, and receive them as God’s gift.

Just as you may go out with a friend for coffee one week and bowling the next, it’s okay to experiment with various kinds of ways to have an encounter with God, our closest friend.