When we think of prayer, we often envision a kneeling position with folded hands, perhaps in a church, or an adoration chapel. It’s a posture with which we are all intimately acquainted (or ought to be). St. Josemría Escrivá, in The Furrow, discusses prayer in a way that reveals other prayer opportunities and that challenges the modern Catholic to consider meditative prayer with new eyes. Below are a few select comments of his on the matter.
Practise meditation for a fixed period and at a fixed time. Otherwise we would be putting our own convenience first; that would be a lack of mortification. And prayer without mortification is not at all effective.
You haven’t been praying? Why, because you haven’t had time? But you do have time. Furthermore, what sort of works will you be able to do if you have not meditated on them in the presence of the Lord, so as to put them in order? Without that conversation with God, how can you finish your daily work with perfection? Look, it is as if you claimed you had no time to study because you were too busy giving lessons. Without study you cannot teach well. Prayer has to come before everything. If you do not understand this and put it into practice, don’t tell me that you have no time: it’s simply that you do not want to pray.
Pray, and pray more. It may seem odd to say that now when you are taking examinations and working harder. But you need prayer, and not only the habitual prayer as an exercise of devotion; you also need to pray during odd moments, to pray between times, instead of allowing your mind to wander on stupidities. It does not matter if, in spite of your effort, you do not manage to concentrate and be recollected. That meditation may be of greater value than the one you made, with all ease, in the oratory.
You belittle meditation. Might you not be afraid, and so seek anonymity since you dare not speak with Christ face to face? You must see that there are many ways of belittling meditation, even though you might say you are practicing it.
We prayed that evening right out in the country as night was falling. We must have looked rather peculiar to anyone who saw us and did not know what we were up to: sitting on the ground in silence, which was interrupted only by the reading of some points for meditation. That prayer under the open sky, hammering away for everyone there with us, for the Church, for souls, was fruitful and pleasing to Heaven. Any place is fitting for that encounter with God.
The scene of the Annunciation is a very lovely one. How often have we meditated on this. Mary is recollected in prayer. She is using all her senses and her faculties to speak to God. It is in prayer that she comes to know the divine Will. And with prayer she makes it the life of her life. Do not forget the example of the Virgin Mary.
It is possible that you might be frightened by this word: meditation. It makes you think of books with old black covers, the sound of sighs, and the irksome repetition of routine prayers. But that is not meditation. To meditate is to consider, to contemplate God as your Father, and yourself as his son and in need of help. And then to give him thanks for all that he has given you and for all that he will give you.
To meditate for a while each day and be united in friendship with God is something that makes sense to people who know how to make good use of their lives. It befits conscientious Christians who live up to their convictions.