A ‘proper’ way to pray?

Hinckley Times - - LETTERS - With An­gela Tarry, Cu­rate at St Mary’s Church, Hinck­ley

FOR cen­turies Chris­tians have prayed around the world in a va­ri­ety of ways.

I won­der what you think about when I men­tion prayer?

Per­haps nuns pray­ing re­li­giously seven times a day.

Per­haps putting your hands to­gether and clos­ing your eyes.

Maybe the words of the Lord’s Prayer, or an­other par­tic­u­lar prayer spring to mind.

What­ever it is, we prob­a­bly all have our own ideas about the way prayer is sup­posed to be done ‘prop­erly’: what prayer should look like.

I con­fess to hav­ing my own ideas about prayer: ex­pec­ta­tions I place on my­self about how of­ten I should pray, for how long, and what for.

I also fre­quently fall short of these ex­pec­ta­tions, so was re­lieved to read re­cently that the Pope has con­fessed to fall­ing asleep while he prays. An ap­par­ent fail­ure of prayer.

How­ever, far from be­ing prayer at is worst, fall­ing asleep while pray­ing is per­haps one of the most beau­ti­ful things we can do.

In­stead of be­ing a fail­ure, Pope Fran­cis sug­gests that we are called to “feel like chil­dren ly­ing in their fa­thers’ arms”.

We only tend to sleep when we are in the com­pany of close friends or fam­ily: those that we are most com­fort­able with.

To fall asleep while pray­ing is to be com­fort­able with God.

Of course, it’s also good to be awake some­times when we pray.

Prayer is sim­ply a way of en­ter­ing into con­ver­sa­tion with God: some­thing that’s much harder to do when we’re asleep!

Prayer is a place where we can bring both our thanks and con­cerns be­fore God; for the small joys in life, as well as the big wor­ries.

Prayer can in­volve words, but it doesn’t need to: some­times the si­lence of sleep in the midst of our thoughts speaks vol­umes.

There is no right or wrong way of pray­ing: for some sit­ting silently in a church is heaven, for oth­ers it’s ab­so­lute hell.

What­ever you thought about prayer, if the Pope can fall asleep while pray­ing and that’s still a good prayer, per­haps it’s time to let go of our fears of get­ting some­thing wrong, say­ing the wrong thing, or not pray­ing prop­erly and just get on with giv­ing it a go.

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