Our Lady Praying

Tired and worn out from a busy day at work, I fret about what I’m going to eat this evening, when I will get a chance to check my emails or whether I ought to give that a miss and just head straight to the gym. I remember all the patients I saw at the hospital during the day and think about their treatments.

A way of prayer that has shaped me ~ Carmelite Spirituality.

What shapes you? I am fascinated by the ‘things’ and attitudes that shape people and their view of the world. We can name people in our own personal histories who have influenced us in such a way that our life changes because of our engagement with them. Our responses to events also shape future attitudes. This might sound a bit psychological, but it is good to have a knowledge of self that acknowledges those things that influence us.  A major influence in my life is a spirituality that is centuries old, with origins in the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. I received much of my faith formation under the influence of the Carmelite Order. In many ways Carmel has been the major influence in my life.

WelcomePrayer for many people is a stumbling block in life. We pray when we gather as a community for the Eucharist, for popular communal prayers such as the rosary. But when it comes to our personal experiences of prayer we are often dissatisfied or too busy. We fill silences with words and are often lost is the realm of ‘listen Lord your servant is speaking!’ I say we, but I guess it would be more honest to say ‘I’. I have problems with prayer. I know the theory, I have been formed in an ancient spiritual tradition and, thankfully, I have had deep experiences of God’s presence and comfort in times of prayer. But these are the heights, but what of the routine? How can prayer become real and life changing for each of us? A more important question – What of the times in my prayer life when it seems that God does not hear or is apparently disinterested in my plight?  As I reflect on my own prayer life, I hope that you will find some echoes with your own experiences.