the most basic conversation

One word, one thought, one feeling in front of the other. That is all it takes. Prayer is the most basic conversation. There is no need to rehearse or get the words just right. Just think, feel, acknowledge the presence of God. Speak to him from the deepest parts of you and if words come out then that is ok too. He won’t ask  you to clarify and he won’t misunderstand. He won’t get the wrong impression of you.

Teresa of Avila wrote powerfully about the faith journey. For her there was only one way to grow in faith – prayer, that conversation between us and God. You don’t have to be educated to pray. You don’t have to speak a certain language or know the fancy words that come with hours of studying. All you need is to turn your heart to God and speak with him.

Prayers don’t just look one way. Sometimes they are asking for things. Sometimes they are telling God why we love him. Sometimes they are telling him why we are angry with him. Sometimes they are just ramblings about what is happening in our day – as if sitting over a cup of coffee with a friend. Sometimes prayer is just opening our hands with the thoughts and feelings that seem chaotic and raising them to God saying, “please, make some sense of these because I can’t.” Sometimes it is sitting in silence with the realisation that God is sitting right beside.

Stop. Listen. Prayer is more than what we have to say. It has to do with the things that God wants to say to us as well. It is an interaction. It is a conversation.

If there is one thing I never want to lose, it is the vulnerability to acknowledge God in this way.

In those times I have found strength for the next breath and hope for the next step. In this most basic conversation I change and God works miracles in the world around me.

As far as I can understand, the door of entry into this castle is prayer and meditation: I do not say mental prayer rather than vocal, for, if it is prayer at all, it must be accompanied by meditation. If a person does not think Whom he is addressing, and what he is asking for, and who it is that is asking and of Whom he is asking it, I do not consider that he is praying at all even though he be constantly moving his lips. ~ Teresa of Avila (born in 1515), Interior Castle

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reflections on patrick: a love that grows in fields of fear

My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers … I was about sixteen at the time. At that time, I did not know the true God. (1)

After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day, and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so that in one day I would pray up to one hundred times, and at night perhaps the same. I even remained in the woods and on the mountain, and I would rise to pray before dawn in snow and ice and rain. I never felt the worse for it, and I never felt lazy – as I realise now, the spirit was burning in me at that time. (16)

It was there that the Lord opened up my awareness of my lack of faith. Even though it came about late, I recognised my failings. So I turned with all my heart to the Lord my God, and he looked down on my lowliness and had mercy on my youthful ignorance. He guarded me before I knew him, and before I came to wisdom and could distinguish between good and evil. He protected me and consoled me as a father does for his son. (2)

~ St. Patrick’s Confession, written by Patrick himself

Kings and Druids ruled the forests, mountains and plains of this island. Their very spiritual daily life was rooted in the goddess of fear and the goddess of intoxication. Sold into Ireland as a foreign slave, Patrick was malnourished and under clothed while forcefully introduced to this new culture. Yet, it was in this environment that a young man, who didn’t even know the true God, began to call out to him. God met him as he prayed. He filled Patrick with a growing love when the gods around cultivated fear. So it was that Patrick came to know Ireland and God in the 5th century, before escaping for home.