Week 2: Baby Steps Toward a Life of Prayer

Befriending SilenceIn Befriending Silence, author and Lay Cistercian Carl McColman shares with us the gifts of Cistercian spirituality. Not surprisingly, many of these gifts center on prayer. “Artists paint, doctors heal, businessmen sell, and Cistercians pray,” McColman writes.

The monastic commitment to a life of prayer can inspire those of us “in the world” to make this gift an important part of our spiritual life.

[P]art of the gift of Cistercian spirituality becoming available to people outside the cloister is a challenge to pray, to seek intimacy with God every day–not in just a perfunctory way but as a meaningful part of each day.


With prayer we express love of Christ, and it is also a gift, in a very mutual way; for prayer, like all spiritual blessings, is a gift from God. Yet when we pray, we give ourselves back to God. ‘Here I am, Lord.’


There are several different kinds of prayer. Last week’s post touched on lectio divina, a way of praying with the Bible. Also important in monastic life is the Divine Office, the prayers and other readings marking the hours of each day. McColman believes that this liturgy offers a poetic and insightful prayer structure for everyone. Because the Divine Office can be complicated, McColman advocates starting small. He suggests the following practice based on the psalms, which form the heart of the Divine Office:


Here is a simple, yet effective, way to begin a practice of daily prayer. Every day for the next five months, pray one psalm a day. That’s it. Each individual psalm can easily be prayed in a single sitting.


Keep in mind that Jesus prayed the psalms. Jews and Christians of every generation have found inspiration, solace, hope, comfort, and challenge in this biblical prayer book. When you pray the psalms, you are truly partaking in a prayer tradition that spans the globe and the centuries.


Don’t worry if you don’t ‘feel’ the particular emotion that is expressed in any one particular psalm. Your prayer is meant to operate on a deeper level than mere feeling.


Read more.

For reflection:

McColman - week 2 (alt)


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