Conscious contact

Now that I’ve discovered a reliable way to address my occasional doubts about God’s existence – immerse myself in nature – it’s time for the next step in my spiritual direction journey: Addressing my questions/doubts about a “personal God.”

Matthew 10:29-30 says “not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” How do I quell my periodic doubts about whether God really cares about me and other people, let alone sparrows? Does God truly have a plan for my life and does God honestly try to communicate directly with me?

With these questions in mind, I’ve dedicated this year’s Lenten season to improving my conscious contact with God. And the logical way to do this is through prayer. 

Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of In All Seasons for All Reasons: Praying Throughout the Year, suggests using Lent as “a time to explore new ways of prayer.”

Among the forms of prayer suggested by Father Martin and my spiritual director, I’d like to focus on the following. While I’ve used some of these prayer techniques off and on for years, I’d like to commit to doing them on a more regular, disciplined basis. Others, such as the “examen” and “lectio divina,” I’ve never tried before and find intriguing.

  • Morning meditation. A time set aside for prayer before I start my day. 
  • Prayers of petition and intercession. Prayer on behalf of myself or others.
  • Prayers of thanksgiving. Expressing gratitude for answered prayers and other blessings.
  • Nature prayer. Encountering God through creation.
  • Writing/journaling. Keeping a journal to record the fruits of prayer, or using writing itself as prayer.
  • Music. Both making and listening to music as a form of prayer and meditation. 
  • Lectio divina. Sacred reading as a prayer method and guide to living.
  • Examen. Prayerful reflection on the events of the day to detect God’s presence and discern God’s direction for my life. 
  • Mindfulness in church. Paying closer attention during church services, and trying not to get distracted by my own random thoughts. 

As I pray, my spiritual director suggested I spend some time listening as well. Say (or write) a prayer, then be silent. Quiet my mind for a few minutes and wait for God’s response. What is God saying to me?

10 thoughts on “Conscious contact

    • I’ve found thanksgiving to be challenging sometimes as well, especially when people suggest I should somehow be grateful even for the bad stuff that happens. I’m not sure we’re expected to be grateful for affliction – after all, I’m not a masochist. One thing I’ve found helpful is to be grateful for the people God put in our lives to help us through the challenging times – competent medical professionals, and the friends, family, church people and total strangers who prayed for my husband and I this past year, for example.

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      • I didn’t mean being grateful for the difficult stuff, but have found that the difficult stuff will cloud my vision until I make an effort to be thankful for the things which are okay, still there in the background, and which I take for granted.

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  1. I use three apps for my morning prayers. I recommend you check out two of them:: “Pray As You Go” and “Hallow.” “Hallow” might be appropriate since it gives various kinds of prayers. Right now I am doing their 40 Lenten Prayer Challenge, but there are lots of other choices. Enjoy all those new ways to pray.

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      • The web sites have the readings too, I think. Hallow was started by a Notre Dame grad(where my daughter went) who was making a lot of money and then realized he was wasting his life and wanted to introduce his generation to old Catholic practices.

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