While Father Andrew gave me a book on prayer and discovering the art of praying I didn’t guess it would open a very different perspective within me.
If ever you get your hands on the book ‘Discoveries in Prayer’ by Malachy Hanratty try reading it.
Many of us are quite faithful to our own religious faith and if asked to name a few more religions would be able to match a child’s IQ in naming a few.
The internet gives staggering figures; there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones which could amount to about 4200 (yes four thousand two hundred) divisions. Every single one has their own practices, own merits and things they could improve on. Can you for a minute think of what is common in all the groups?
Yes prayer is a common thread running across several religious practices.
Each one of us would have prayed at one point in life. Can you try explaining what Prayer is?
Most likely you would have said, speaking to God, asking God for things, wishing for things to happen etc…
How about this explanation?
Prayer is speaking to God, asking God for things, wishing for things to happen and GOD LISTENING TO ME [MH]. Doesn’t the last bit add so much more relevance to the praying that we have been doing?
The next great idea in the book says if ever you want to start being happy / start praying start appreciating the small things in your daily life. It is called the ‘The Good Things Prayer’ – every evening / night when you pray just reflect on the small / big good things that have happened during the day [MH]. Malachy goes on to give some examples of good things,
a) The joy of meeting someone unexpected, whom you like a lot.
b) The delight of receiving a long awaited letter
c) The happiness of doing something successfully (like baking a cake, clearing a test, giving a good presentation etc)
d) The relief over a worrisome problem solved etc.
e) A refreshing walk.
f) Feeling patient towards other and caring for others.
g) Doing a good thing for the society / planet.
The real aim is that the more we recognize the good things, the more we appreciate God’s deep care of us in daily life and as a result we feel closer to God [MH].
Some constraints are
1) Sparing a fixed time say 5 minutes every day for this prayer.
2) Feeling distracted during the 5 minutes.
3) The negatives creeping in instead of the good factors of the day. Only will power and time will slowly ensure you see the positives ahead of the negative.
4) When a negative creeps in, turn to God and ask – Show me a good thing.
Also one needs to understand that prayers needn’t be super fast solutions, God could be biding his time planning for a longer term, more surer solution which you could experience a few periods later.
Use of mantra’s or specific terms as practiced by several groups could be instrumental in attaining the right frame of mind and getting closer to God [MH].
Malachy also gives a valid pointer in being concrete and clear in your prayers, example instead of asking for God to give you patience ask God for giving you patience say in tomorrow important business meeting. This ensures when you get that granted it is easier for us to recognize it and be thankful to God for granting it.
Another superb pointer is ‘dressing up’ you might be in a grumpy / angry mood but during prayer you act as if nothing has happened, remember God knows better than that. So be honest and true.
Another valuable pointer given by Malachy is that he has seen several pray for change to happen in others, say God please change xx’s attitude but the right way is God please change xx’s attitude but please start with me. This feels more like a reflection and acceptance.
Other factors in prayer are praying for all you loved ones, relatives, friends, the world, for nature, for what not, the list can just be endless and it purely depends on ones time.
I feel the best pointer in the book is when he talks about the relation between forgiveness and prayer, and defines what forgiveness means,
How would we define forgiveness?
Forgiveness means deliberately trying to return to the relationship that existed before the injury and forcing ourselves to imagine that it hasn’t happened. [MH]
Malachy gives a very beautiful definition – We must understand it as fully recognizing fully that it did happen but in spite of that injury we now want to make a whole new relationship with the person who injured me. I really felt it was such a wonderful and strong perspective to forgiving a person.
Hope this short snippet added value. Well it did a bit to me.
Wishing you all good luck and happiness.
Acknowledgement / Disclaimer: Many snippets are taken from the book Discoveries in Prayer by Malachy Hanratty denoted by [MH]. The other points are purely personal views and might not be agreeable to all.