As discussed in my last blog, mental prayer is a place where one dialogs with God. There are many ways of engaging in mental prayer. The key is to use one’s intellect to ponder questions of God. The main ingredient for a successful mental prayer session, in my opinion, is to invite the Holy Spirit in to the prayer session. If you think about it, God gave up his power to override our will. Thus, I have come to believe that it is incredibly important, to re-permit him to actively work in our lives. He can work where we implicitly allow him to. I just believe that giving him an express invitation is an important part of prayer and daily living as a Christian.
Mental prayer is, for the most part, synonymous with meditation. However, there are many forms of meditation, and I have found it useful to describe different processes with specific words. Some of my terminology will match what you might have heard others use, but I might use different words to help distinguish between the various processes.
Today, I will cover meditation. By meditation, I am specifically talking about entering into Biblical scenes and experiencing them yourselves. In theory, you can do this type of prayer with any text in the Bible, but I find it most successful when entering active scenes. At the same time, I have found wisdom in becoming inanimate objects. For example, one day, I was meditating on the destruction of Jerusalem after the Babylonian invasion. Most of the Israelites had been exiled to Babylon, and I found myself picturing the rubble of Jerusalem. I was in a period of personal desolation. I do not recall what was on my mind at the time, but I found myself in the pieces of rubble on the ground. I sat with this image for a period of time as I prayed with the Holy Spirit. As we talked about my heartache and sense of hopelessness, I looked up from my pile of rubble, and saw the Israelites returning from Babylon to rebuild the city. I cannot say, without lying, that my meditation always has such amazing results, but I share this example because I think it is important to know that you can place yourself in inanimate objects and have successful prayer sessions.
Spend some time today entering into a scene of the Bible. Open your prayer by inviting the Holy Spirit into your session. The next step is to pick a scene for your meditation. You can select a scene from your memory or pick up the book and flip through it until you find one that tugs at your heart. Keep looking for that tug on your heart as you go through the process of meditation. In this way, you will find where the Holy Spirit is navigating. You may not find it the first time or two. It may take practice. Just trust that the Holy Spirit wants to have a one-on-one encounter with you. Sometimes, when I cannot connect, I change the scene a bit or change my approach. Sometimes this helps me find the that tug that I missed the first time around, but not always. As you close your prayer, thank God for his participation, even if you did not have a tangible encounter with him. God is always present and always working. As you wrap up your prayer, I encourage you to spend at least five minutes in silence. It is in the silence where we allow the Holy Spirit to start moving us towards contemplation. It may take a day, 50 years, or even 100 years, but it is in the silence that we allow the Holy Spirit to move us in this direction.
If you are not connecting with the Holy Spirit after a few attempts, feel free to reach out to me on FaceBook messenger. I’m happy to help you troubleshoot the process.
Ms. Debra D. Weldon, O.P., MTS