I recently had someone ask me about prayer. What is prayer and how are you supposed to pray? We know we are supposed to pray, but sometimes prayer is dry. We show up and make time for it, but then aren't really sure what to do. We can bust out some devotional prayers--the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet--or we can spend sometime contemplating scripture. We can kneel in the church and list off our many petitions, presenting our requests to God, maybe even falling into the temptation of bargaining with God, "Hey God, if you do this, I'll do this."
We give thanks when a prayer is answered, but do we still show up to prayer when God's response to our request isn't what we expected? We pray for peace, a peace that unites our hearts and minds with Christ. So how do we find that peace? How do we unite ourselves with Christ? Well, I say we need to take a pilgrimage to the heart of God.
Prayer is a pilgrimage of the heart. It is a journey that continues, deepens, and develops throughout our entire lives. The depths of God's love, God's heart, is described as a bottomless well or the depths of the ocean--a vast destination that we don't actually reach on this side of eternity, but are constantly plunging more deeply into this relationship of love. Our pilgrimage of the heart of Jesus is a journey of becoming our truest selves, living into our identity as God's beloved. The more we come to know God, the more we come to know ourselves.
I heard it said once that life is a journey from God, back to God. Our pilgrimage to the heart of God is life--how we live and how we love. As we make this pilgrimage to the heart of Jesus, we find our own.
My favorite definition of prayer is one that a spiritual director shared with me a while back. I found it helpful in entering into meditation and contemplative/centering prayer. It is: "Prayer is resting your head on God's heart and letting God love you." Prayer is the meeting of hearts.
I recall the image of the Beloved Disciple in the Gospel of John, leaning back on Jesus' chest during the Last Supper, seeking comfort and understanding in times of confusion. How often do I find myself in prayer seeking consolation in times of anxiety? Lean back against the heart of God. Rest in the heart of God. Be held in the mystery of God's love, which is nothing we can earn or meet, but simply receive. Let God love us and let go of anything that might be holding us back--any sense of unworthiness or the lie of not being good enough. God's mercy is abundant and overflowing, extending into the smallest areas and the hidden parts of ourselves that we carry deep within.
Rest your head. Be consumed by love. For when the two hears meet, they are filled with the same thoughts and desires. Keep walking that pilgrimage of the heart one day at a time, one step at a time; journeying more deeply into the heart of God.
Written by Sister Kara Davis, D.C.