Prisoners and prayer
One of the prisoners I am writing to is named Leonard. He is in prison for a serious crime and he admits to it. He is also in for a long term. At this time he is in a ‘religious block’, where they get classes not only on religion, but also about culture and math, as well as learning some sort of skill. He has a lot to work with and to top it off his mother has cancer and there is no one to help her at this time. He is also trying to deepen his relationship with God and will ask me questions on prayer etc. One of his questions was on distractions during meditation and prayer and asked me if I ever experienced that. After I chuckled over that I remember just this morning, it was one of those days that I had to gently keep coming back to my mediation over and over again. So I thought it would be good to answer him on that point, since my Morning Prayer time was still very fresh in my mind.
Please pray for all prisoners, I know that many really need to be there, and then there are those who made a mistake and others not bad but have problems with impulse control, and may actually be better off where they are…yet all are made in the image of God, so pray for them if you feel the call.
He also asked about praying seven times a day, which is mentioned in the Psalms, so I said something about that.
(In one of the psalms it mentions about praying 7 times a day…that would be formal prayer, most likely at the temple or perhaps in the synagogue. The psalms, if they speak to you can be a great form of prayer, especially if read slowly and pondered gently. In prayer there will always be distractions. In fact some days when I pray there are nothing but this thought and that, not all pleasant. It is just part of being human. Even if you have distractions, when you become aware of it, just gently go back to prayer. It is the intent that counts, your desire to be in the Lord’s presence. Also if your mind is really distracted try saying the Our Father very slowly, thinking of the words, or repeating the name of Jesus slowly, again in a gentle manner. Distraction can also be a subject for you to pray about; especially if you keep getting the same inner drama… healing can come through prayer. Don’t worry about results, just pray. When you pray, or struggle to pray, you are responding to God’s invitation, which is all that matters. Prayer is not always easy, it is about developing a deep and loving relationship with God…..time spent with a loved one is never wasted. In fact we show love by the amount of time we do spend with those we say we love. So with God, who is always present in your heart is present to you in a loving manner… to pray is to become aware of that. God’s love never changes, he does not get tired of you, nor will he ever cease giving you grace, mercy and forgiveness. His love is for everyone, unique, but each human person is his child…even those who do not love God or believe in his existence.
Fear and despair come from us, they are lies, don’t believe them, always trust, it is a choice based on faith. In that we die to our old selves and become aware of a bigger reality that is based on love. We are called to put on the ‘Mind of Christ’.)