A Talk About Prayer* (Part 1)
IN the first place, we will speak of the ways of making vocal prayer. Besides the ordinary way we have of reciting our vocal prayers, i.e., a simple repetition of the words, with a general attention to God and to the intention for which we are reciting them-there are two other ways, highly recommended by the saints.
One is to recite the words of the prayer, say, of the Our Father, very slowly and thoughtfully, attending to the sense of the words, and pausing an instant after each sentence or clause, in order to make the meaning of the prayer our own. It is well to get into the habit, in fact, when we are alone and have enough leisure, of saying our prayers slowly and thoughtfully, and with great exterior and interior reverence, even though at times we may find no devotion in considering the meaning of every sentence, but only have in our souls a sense of the presence of God. In that case it will be better simply to recite the prayer slowly, and with quiet recollection of the divine presence.
The other way of reciting vocal prayers, particularly the Our Father and the Hail Mary, is, in fact, a method of turning vocal into mental prayer. It consists in not merely reciting the prayer slowly, but resting at each sentence or petition, and meditating upon what is there said, or asked of God. It is the method St. Teresa taught her nuns, and is a most profitable as well as an easy way of meditating. Some people find it very difficult to make use. of mental prayer by the ordinary methods. They will not, perhaps, find this method so difficult. We will give a rapid sketch of the manner of meditating on the Our Father, and of some of the subjects of meditation to be found in it. Those who are not able to meditate by reasoning upon points, may find in this method great help and encouragement.
Upon the very first words of this divine prayer of Our Lord the soul may rest and find nourishment. It is not necessary, having begun the first words of the prayer, to go on and finish it; but if, during the whole time of prayer, the soul rests upon these or any other words, there let her stay as long as she is inclined. Afterwards, if there is any more time, let her go on to the next sentence or petition...
* From Spencer's "The Little Grain of Wheat."
From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914