A Prayerful Journey of Spiritual Growth and Healing
It is of immense help to explore the profound contemplative tradition within our Catholic faith and to understand that horizons within which spiritual development occurs. Ultimately, however, the Holy Spirit is the master of prayer and wants to be your guide.
The following eight exercises are offered as a means to place yourself in the school of the Spirit. They target particularly those challenging areas that thwart the progress of people who pray. They are labeled steps precisely because they build on one another. You may find them most helpful if you take each step in order, although you certainly may use them in any order you feel drawn. For some of the steps you will need a pen, paper and bible, as indicated. If you feel you would be nourished by more time on some point or another of the prayer exercise I invite you to pause the recording and give yourself and the Spirit all the time you desire. It would be preferable to not finish the prayer guide, than to rush through it. Without any pause the prayer guides are a total of 25 minutes. The essential text of the prayer guides are reproduced below for your convenience.
Topic 17: Step One: Becoming Aware
Developing a prayerful spirit often begins with awareness—becoming aware of who you are, and aware of who God is — responsive to the subtle communication that is going on between you. That takes a lot of work, at least initially: to settle down, loosen, let go, forget, turn off the endless mental activity and emotional responses so that we can encounter what is truly real about God and about ourselves.
Begin by becoming aware of the exterior world around you.
Listen for a few moments.
What do you hear?
Now let these things go.
Enjoy the new sense of peace. Now begin to stop the endless mental chattering, quieting the thoughts and emotions that kidnap the consciousness. As you begin to quiet down, begin to pull apart the mass of ―thoughts and emotions‖ by simply saying the word “thinking” softly as you become aware of your thoughts.
When you are aware of these individual thoughts and reactions, you can begin to let them go.
Let go of past events, friendships, worries, conflicts.
Let them go.
Let go of ideals, plans, hopes, and dreams.
Let go of anything around you.
Let go of everything outside of this moment.
Let go of everything outside of this place.
Let go of everyone.
Mentally scan your body and gently tell your body to relax.
As you relax, begin to say one of the following breath prayers with a quiet intensity and relaxed concentration,
“Jesus, I worship you” (as you inhale) and “Touch my heart” (as you exhale)
“Jesus” (inhale) and “Come” (exhale)
“Heal me, Lord” (inhale) and “Hold me” (exhale)
This is an excellent preparation with which to begin every time of stillness and communion with God.