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The Spirit prays within us deeper than words

A series on Christian Meditation by Sandee Bengochea, Coordinator, WCCM Trinidad

Meditation is a universal spiritual tradition and practice. We find it in all the great spiritual traditions including the Christian tradition.

Many people today are seeking a deeper and more personally authentic experience of prayer. There are many forms of prayer. We use different ways at different times according to our needs, our moods, whether we are alone or with others.

All forms of prayer are valid, provided they come from a sincere heart. In the Christian tradition, there is a wonderful richness and variety of forms of prayer. For example: the Eucharist, the other sacraments, petitions, intercessions, charismatic prayer, scripture, devotional prayer.

All our forms of prayer move us into the prayer of Christ. Jesus has completed His human journey to the Father, but He also returns to us through His spirit, the Holy Spirit, in our hearts. St Augustine says, “Jesus is our teacher of prayer because he prays in us, with us and for us.”  St Paul says, “I live no longer, but Christ lives in me.”

A good way of understanding prayer is with the symbol of a wheel. A wheel suggests both movement and groundedness. Prayer is our movement or journey towards God. If a wheel is to be effective it must touch the ground, otherwise it just spins in the air and goes nowhere.

Prayer must be grounded, that is, integrated into our daily living. The spokes of the wheel represent the different forms of prayer. They converge at the hub of the wheel, the centre. In Christian faith, at the centre we find the prayer of Christ, the Spirit of Christ that “prays within us…deeper than words” (Rom 8:26).

When we say our mantra, it guides us through all thoughts, anxieties, and distractions. It leads gently and directly along the path of silence and simplicity and the stillness to the centre of our being. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Repetition in faith leads to stillness.

That stillness, however, is not passivity or drowsiness. Jesus said, “stay awake and pray”. That stillness is pure wakefulness, pure consciousness.

If we can experience this stillness at the hub of the wheel, we find a wonderful transformation developing throughout all aspects of our lives. At the centre of the wheel there is stillness. But at the outer rim there is movement.

This is where we find the movement of our lives: our work, our relationships, our activities. If there is no stillness, there is no movement that has ultimate meaning. The quality of our lives depends on the stillness that we find at the centre.

The essence of all prayer is paying attention to what we find at the hub of the wheel, in our own hearts. The essential elements of meditation are Interiority: “Go into your inner room (the heart) and pray to your heavenly Father in secret” (Mt 6:6).

Trust: God knows our needs before we ask.

Calmness: “Don’t be anxious about material things, what to wear, what to eat, what to drink” (Mt 6:25).

Attention: “Set your mind on God’s Kingdom before everything else” (Mt 6:33)

Presence: ‘Don’t worry about tomorrow’.

The essence of all prayer is paying attention to what we find at the hub of the wheel, in our own hearts.

The more deeply we enter into the prayer of Christ, into the silence and stillness at the centre, we find that other forms of prayer become enriched. They are transformed and deepened, and their spiritual meaning is enhanced by the daily practice of meditation.

Based on: The Journey of Meditation, Laurence Freeman.

To contact WCCM Trinidad, email besandee@gmail.com

Our Meditation Center at St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain is now open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10.30 a.m. – 1.30 p.m.