A ‘proper’ way to pray?
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.